Mar 19, 2024 - News

Our humanoid car builders

A humanoid waves an arm.

An Austin-designed humanoid — who probably won't take your job — waves an arm. Photo courtesy of Apptronik.

Apptronik, a humanoid robot manufacturer based in Austin, has won a contract to supply its Apollo robots for Mercedes-Benz'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, writes Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson.

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

  • 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.)
Apollo, a humanoid, walks a factory floor.
Apollo will inspect components and haul parts to the assembly line for workers. Photo courtesy of Apptronik.

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.

Between the lines: There's ambient concern that robots might replace humans in jobs, and bottom-line-oriented corporations are grappling with how to couch the shift to workers and the general public.

  • 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.
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