I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Brett Adcock, Founder and CEO of Figure, regarding the company’s vision for robots. Brett is also the founder of Archer, an aviation company, and Vettery, a hiring marketplace.
Figure recently came out of stealth mode and unveiled Figure 01, the world’s first commercially viable general-purpose humanoid robot. The humanoid will have the ability to think, learn, and interact with its environment, and is designed for initial deployment into the workforce to address labor shortages and over time lead the way in eliminating the need for unsafe and undesirable jobs.
The Figure team currently consists of 40 industry experts with a combined 100 years of AI and humanoid experience from Boston Dynamics, Tesla, IHMC, GoogleX, Cruise, and Apple SPG. Dr. Jerry Pratt joined Figure as CTO with over 20 years of humanoid experience from IHMC, where he led the team at the DARPA Humanoid Robotics Challenge. The Figure team completed the full-scale humanoid build in just six months and will begin testing in the coming months.
I was given a tour of the facility and the robots. The goal is to provide Figure 01 with substantially more degrees of freedom – the number of joints/axes of motion – than what’s been unveiled by companies like Agility Robotics. I asked Brett why he believed Figure could design and build a better robot than the companies that have already released working robots. Brett stated, “The timing is right. The technology is available. The expertise is available. We have a vision and a plan to turn the vision into a reality.”
When completed, Figure 01 will combine the dexterity of the human form with cutting-edge AI to perform a wide range of tasks in various industries, such as manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and retail. Longer term, Figure’s humanoids will play an important role in additional areas such as assisting in the home, and caring for the elderly. However, according to Brett, “We are focused exclusively on building a robot that can work in warehouses and perform tasks that take place within logistics.”
I understand Brett’s concerns regarding the need to build and deliver a product. However, I did recommend that Brett should ensure that a small team is tasked with building working prototypes and software for robots in the following areas even if it means raising capital:
Healthcare and Hospitals
Education (including classroom robots)
Home is important because Amazon has announced their intention to acquire iRobot, maker of Roomba vacuums. In my opinion, Amazon is acquiring iRobot to leverage the technology to create an in-home robot. Note: Amazon personnel continue to reach out to me to ask my opinion related to the design of humanoid robots.
Pay attention to Figure. They have everything necessary to be phenomenally successful.