Intel Invests In AI Startup To Design Humanoid Robots For Shrinking Labor Force

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Intel Capital has made a $9 million equity investment into Figure, an AI Robotics company building general-purpose humanoid robots. Today's announcement follows the Figure 01 robot taking its first steps, among other technical milestones.

Hollywood actors recently joined writers on the picket line protesting how they are being treated within their industry. Among the complaints is that Hollywood is eager to use actors' AI-generated likenesses in place of an actual person, with little compensation being paid to the actors. Whether workers are being replaced due to greed, or out of necessity, many large corporations and businesses are looking at AI as the go-to alternative to employing actual humans. Now, Intel has invested in a company that is developing an advanced AI humanoid that could fill the void in a dwindling labor force.

"Intel Capital is at the forefront of making big, bold frontier bets and we are excited to share the same vision of a better future," remarked Brett Adcock, Founder and CEO of Figure. "This investment along with the global resources and expertise of the Intel team will help accelerate the growth and success of Figure."

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Figure points out on its website that the labor force is shrinking and that "there are 10 million unfilled jobs in the United States." According to the company, 7 million of those jobs are for essential roles in places like warehouses, transportation, and retail, with only 6 million people being available to fill those spots.

The electric humanoid robot Figure is developing, Figure 01, stands at 5'6", weighs in at 60kg with a payload of 20kg, has a 5hr runtime, and can walk at speeds up to 1.2m/s. The tech company says Figure 01 "brings together the dexterity of the human form and cutting edge AI to go beyond single-function robots and lend support across manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and retail."

Figure says it sees three major business opportunities in the long term. Those include physical labor, consumer household, and off-world ventures. It does, however, insist that it will not place humanoids in military or defense applications, nor any type of role that would require inflicting harm on humans.

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The Figure 01 and future iterations will be general-purpose humanoid robots built for a human environment, instead of being designed to function in an environment specifically for robots. The company believes this is the best path in order to have the largest overall impact. It is for that reason that Figure 01 resembles the human body in shape and function.

"Intel Capital is constantly searching for companies that push the boundaries of innovation, and we believe that Figure has the potential to shift the way the world thinks about artificial intelligence," explained Mark Lydon, Managing Director at Intel Capital. "Figure's focus on enhancing the labor economy is an essential part of our future, and we look forward to being at the forefront to support humanoid development."