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Microsoft, Open AI to Invest $500M in Humanoid Robot Startup

The investment in Figure Robotics could catapult the company into unicorn status

Scarlett Evans

February 5, 2024

2 Min Read
Figure 01 robot
Figure Robotics

Microsoft and OpenAI are reportedly in talks to invest as much as $500 million in humanoid robotics startup Figure AI.

The funding could raise Figure’s value to $1.9 billion, making it the first humanoid robotics unicorn.

While the companies involved have not yet commented on the potential deal, humanoid robots are tapped as a significant source of investment interest in the next year as companies race to commercialize their designs.

Figure emerged from stealth last March with its humanoid Figure 01, which the company says is the “world’s first commercially viable” humanoid robot.

Designed to meet ongoing global labor shortages, Figure 01 was developed to perform heavy-duty tasks around a manufacturing space, capable of carrying up to 44 pounds of payload, running for up to five hours on a single charge and autonomously navigating complex environments.

In January, Figure signed a deal with BMW to deploy its general-purpose robots at the car manufacturer’s warehouses to automate  “difficult, unsafe or tedious” tasks.

Figure will initially investigate how the robots should best be utilized before they’re officially deployed at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina facility.

Humanoid robotics competitors are all edging closer to commercialization. Agility Robotics signed a deal with Amazon to have their humanoid designs tested in Amazon warehouses and Apptronik recently announced a collaboration with NASA to commercialize its humanoid design, Apollo.

Related:Intel Backs Figure Robotics with $9M

Meanwhile, Elon Musk told investors in a January earnings call that there's a "good chance" Tesla will start shipping some units of its humanoid robot Optimus next year. 

OpenAI previously invested in humanoid robot startup 1X Technologies, which has developed a bipedal humanoid robot, Neo, and a wheeled robot, Eve for industrial and domestic use cases.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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