Mar 15, 2024 - Business

Humanoid robots are joining Mercedes' assembly line

A humanoid robot waves while standing in front of two cars.

Apollo, made by Apptronik, is made for repetitive and dangerous work. Photo courtesy of Apptronik.

The newest Mercedes-Benz production worker is 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, can lift 55 pounds, and plugs itself in when it needs to take a break.

  • Apptronik, a humanoid robot manufacturer based in Austin, has won a contract to supply its Apollo humanoid robots for the carmaker's production line.

Why it matters: First-generation humanoid robots are storming into real-life industrial settings — making the leap from science fiction to the factory floor.

Driving the news: Mercedes-Benz "is exploring potential use cases for Apollo humanoid robots in logistics," according to the companies' announcement.

  • The robot will bring parts to the production line for workers to assemble, and inspect components.
  • Later, it will deliver totes of kitted parts for use in the manufacturing process. (See a video of Apollo in action.)

What they're saying: "Long term, really the sky's the limit in terms of what these types of systems will be able to do," Apptronik CEO Jeff Cardenas told Axios last year.

A woman holds hands with Apollo, the humanoid robot, near a car.
Apollo the robot is designed to work alongside humans. Photo courtesy of Apptronik.

Zoom out: The announcement is the latest "big news" move from the small cadre of companies that make walking, dexterous human-shaped robots.

Between the lines: There's ambient concern that robots might replace humans in jobs.

  • Apollo is meant to automate "some physically demanding, repetitive and dull tasks for which it is increasingly hard to find reliable workers," Mercedes and Apptronik noted in their press release.

The bottom line: Rosie, the chatty, helpful robot from "The Jetsons," could soon be your next colleague.

A robot stands next to an auto manufacturing assembly line.
Apollo will inspect components and haul parts to the assembly line for workers. Photo courtesy of Apptronik.
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