UPDATED 11:40 EDT / JANUARY 31 2024


Report: Humanoid robot startup Figure AI seeks $500M raise led by Microsoft and OpenAI

Figure AI Inc., a startup developing humanoid robots, is reportedly in talks to raise $500 million in new funding led by Microsoft Corp. and OpenAI, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Although the principal investors and Figure declined to comment, the Jan. 30 report cited an anonymous source with knowledge of the matter who said that it would bring the company to a valuation near $1.9 billion. Microsoft would reportedly invest $95 million and OpenAI will add $5 million. The company previously raised $70 million led by Parkway Venture Capital in May.

Founded in 2022, Figure has been working on disrupting the market for industrial robots by developing bipedal humanoid robots that can operate in the same spaces that humans can. Although robots already exist and work alongside humans, many of them are purpose-built and boxy, with articulated elements that make them less than ideal for spaces that were designed for people.

To make these workplaces safer, the company introduced Figure 01, an autonomous humanoid robot that the company introduced publicly when it emerged from stealth mode in March. The humanoid design would allow the robot to walk around warehouses and manufacturing floors and perform repetitive and unsafe activities that would otherwise fall to workers.

Earlier this month, Figure inked a deal with luxury car manufacturer BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC to deploy its robots for automotive manufacturing where they would be used to automate difficult, unsafe or tedious tasks. The German automaker will trial the robots in a South Carolina factory, according to the announcement.

“Single-purpose robotics have saturated the commercial market for decades, but the potential of general-purpose robotics is completely untapped,” said Brett Adcock, founder and chief executive of Figure. “Figure’s robots will enable companies to increase productivity, reduce costs, and create a safer and more consistent environment.”

Humanoid robots continue to make a strong case for roles in industrial, retail and domestic applications. However, none has been deployed for commercial applications as yet.

Tesla Inc. recently demonstrated the prototype second generation of its Optimus bipedal robot and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said there was a “good chance of shipping some number” of the units next year. Another U.S.-based competitor, Agility Robots Inc. is already testing humanoid robots in Amazon.com Inc. warehouses.

Image: Figure

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