BMW subsidiary commissions humanoid robots for its U.S. factory

The bipedal steel workers will be supplied by a California-based company developing AI-powered autonomous machines.

BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC, a subsidiary of BMW AG in Munich, Germany, has entered a commercial agreement with FigureAI, a California-based company developing autonomous general-purpose humanoid robots.

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Powered by artificial intelligence, the models Figure01 will be deployed to BMW’s factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where the carmaker assembles a wide range of vehicles, including BMW X3, X3 M, X5, X5 M and X7 Sports Activity Vehicles; BMW X4, X4 M, X6 and X6 M Sports Activity Coupes; and BMW XM.

“Figure's humanoid robots enable the automation of difficult, unsafe, or tedious tasks throughout the manufacturing process, which in turn allows employees to focus on skills and processes that cannot be automated, as well as continuous improvement in production efficiency and safety,” the two companies said in a joint press release

According to Figure’s specifications,

the 170-centimeter-tall, 60-kilogram robot warrants a 5-hour runtime and a 20-kilogram payload, moving 1.2 meters per second across plain terrain. It has two five-fingered hands that can handle most things people use their hands for. 

Under the agreement, BMW Manufacturing and FigureAI will pursue a milestone-based approach. In the first phase, Figure will identify initial use cases to apply the Figure robots in automotive production. Once the first phase has been completed, the Figure robots will begin staged deployment at BMW's manufacturing facility.

What the robots will do exactly remains unclear, just like the fate of the human workers employed at the German subsidiary in the United States.

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