Welcome to the era of humanoid robots! These incredible machines are designed to mimic human form, movement, and intelligence. In this article, we’ll dive into three remarkable examples that have recently arrived on the scene:
- Tesla Bot
- Sanctuary AI’s Phoenix
- Figure’s Figure 01
Let’s explore what they are and their purpose, specifications, applications, and availability! But first, let’s define humanoid robots.
What is a humanoid robot?
A humanoid robot is a machine (robot) that acts and in some cases, looks like a human. Typically they have a head, torso, arms, and legs. And based on what you’re about to read and see, they can walk, think, converse (almost), and interact with their surroundings. Their purpose – they’re designed to assist humans in various fields like healthcare, manufacturing, and entertainment.
But it’s possible you’ll see these humanoid robots serving your next meal at a restaurant or even more exciting, running errands for you and even doing chores around the house. Humanoid robots are becoming so popular, even though they are still in early development, that according to Goldman Sachs, humanoid robots could potentially become a market worth US$154 billion by 2035!
Tesla Bot is a groundbreaking humanoid robot recently unveiled by the electric vehicle giant Tesla. The actual machine was revealed September 20, 2022 on Tesla AI Day, only one year after Elon Musk announced the development during the Company’s AI Day event in August 2021.
The Tesla Bot, also known as Optimus, is a bipedal humanoid robot designed for various tasks, from mundane household chores to complex industrial processes. Its main purpose is to eliminate repetitive, labor-intensive tasks, allowing humans to focus on more creative and fulfilling endeavors.
The Tesla Bot’s potential applications are vast, ranging from assisting in manufacturing and construction to performing tasks in hazardous environments. It can also be a helpful companion for the elderly or disabled, providing support in daily activities. The exact release date and pricing details are yet to be announced.
Sanctuary AI’s Phoenix
Sanctuary AI’s Phoenix is another humanoid robot that aims to revolutionize the way we live and work. Designed to be a general-purpose robot, Phoenix is built to learn from humans and adapt to a wide range of tasks. With its advanced AI, powered by Sanctuary AI’s own Carbon, it is capable of understanding human language, emotions, and body language, allowing for seamless interactions.
Sanctuary AI, in a landmark partnership with Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC), has successfully deployed Phoenix in a commercial setting, but only for a week for testing. This notable deployment took place at a Mark’s retail store in Langley, BC, Canada, where Phoenix performed 110 retail-related tasks. These tasks, which ranged from picking and packing merchandise to cleaning and tagging, were previously tested in Sanctuary AI’s labs, marking this as a significant leap from lab environment to real-world application.
As a general-purpose robot, Phoenix is designed to work alongside humans in a variety of ways: it can be directly piloted by people, steered with the assistance of human operators, or supervised by Sanctuary while it employs its built-in Carbon™ AI control system to observe, evaluate, and act on tasks. It’s not just a robot, it’s a companion in our quest for advancement.
Sanctuary AI has not yet released the Phoenix robot to the market. The company is currently working on perfecting its technology so that it meets the highest safety and performance standards. More information about the robot’s release date and pricing is expected to be announced in the future.
Figure’s Figure 01
Figure’s Figure 01, developed by Figure Technologies, is a humanoid robot designed to perform tasks in various environments, from homes to businesses. Its modular design allows for easy customization and expansion, enabling users to add or replace components as needed to suit their requirements.
The primary purpose of Figure 01 is to serve as an effective and adaptable assistance platform. With its advanced AI, it can learn and adapt to new tasks quickly. This makes it suitable for a range of applications, including healthcare, education, and hospitality.
When it comes to stats, Figure 01 boasts impressive capabilities. Its cutting-edge sensors and actuators provide it with a high level of dexterity, enabling it to perform complex tasks with precision. The robot is also equipped with advanced machine learning algorithms, allowing it to learn from its experiences and improve over time.
Figure has not released a video showing the robot in action or deployed it in any real-world test environments like Sanctuary’s Phoenix. However, Figure is training Figure 01 in a simulated warehouse environment so the robot can learn how to perform specific tasks.
Humanoid Robots vs. Traditional Robots: Understanding the Key Differences
Humanoid robots differ from traditional robots in various aspects. Traditional robots are stationary and designed for specific tasks, while humanoid robots mimic human features and can learn through observation. They are built to operate within human environments and often have two arms and legs, with joints similar to human limbs.
However, there are limitations in replicating exact human kinematics with available components and materials. Actuator systems also differ significantly, as no man-made actuators match human muscle power density. These differences affect the physical capabilities of humanoid robots, and understanding them can help researchers improve their agility and adaptability.
Current humanoid robots may not perfectly mimic human motion, but ongoing research and advancements will continue to bridge the gap between human and robotic capabilities. Now that we’ve explored the differences between humanoid robots and traditional robots, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of these fascinating human-like machines.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Humanoid Robots
Since humanoid robots are becoming popular, trending if you’re into technology, they seem cool so far, right? Well, there are some advantages and disadvantages to having humanoid robots in our daily lives. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages:
Advantages of Humanoid Robots
Functional and Experimental Use: Humanoid robots have the distinct advantage of being able to interact with human environments and tools. This versatility allows them to serve functional purposes and be involved in experimental studies, such as locomotion research. Their human-like structure enables them to adapt to tasks and environments designed for humans, expanding their applicability across various fields.
Companionship and Assistance: Humanoid robots can also serve as companions and assistants in daily life. Their design and programming can enable them to perform everyday tasks, offering support to individuals who may require help, such as the elderly or those with disabilities.
Disaster Response: The robust nature of humanoid robots can make them invaluable during man-made or natural disasters. Unlike humans, they can withstand harsh conditions and perform rescue tasks that would be hazardous for human responders.
Space Exploration: The use of humanoid robots in space exploration is another significant advantage. They can be sent on dangerous and distant space missions where human life might be at risk. This could potentially expand the reach of space exploration in the future.
Education: Humanoid robots can also be used for educational purposes. They can serve as teaching aids or even as subjects of study in robotics and related fields, enhancing learning outcomes.
Disadvantages of Humanoid Robots
Costly Investment: The cost of a humanoid robot is a significant disadvantage. Depending on how advanced the robot is, the price can be prohibitive. High production and development costs often result in expensive retail prices, making these robots inaccessible to many.
Societal Inequality: As humanoid robots become more available to society, it’s likely that primarily wealthy individuals will be able to afford them. This could lead to societal inequalities and disparities in access to the benefits offered by these robots.
Job Displacement: The adoption of humanoid robots has the potential to replace jobs in various fields, such as nursing, pharmacy, and secretarial work. While this may lead to efficiency gains for companies, it could negatively impact workers in these sectors, potentially leading to unemployment and exacerbating economic disparities.
While I didn’t list out all the possible advantages and disadvantages, there is still more to explore as humanoid robots continue to evolve. Remember, this is still early for what’s possible even in day-to-day life.
The Future of Humanoid Robots
In this new era of humanoid robots, we’ve witnessed some remarkable advancements with the unveiling of Tesla Bot, Sanctuary AI’s Phoenix, and Figure’s Figure 01. From Tesla Bot’s advanced AI and automation capabilities to Phoenix’s sophisticated AI-driven interactions and Figure 01’s impressive dexterity for fine manipulation, each robot has a unique set of strengths to offer. As these humanoid robots continue to advance, we can expect even more innovative solutions to improve our daily lives and productivity.
While there might be concerns about the potential impact on the job market, these robots also create opportunities for new jobs and industries to emerge. With the increasing availability of these advanced machines, one thing is certain: humanoid robots are here to stay, and the future is now.
I’m sure there are competitors looming and in time we’ll see which of these humanoid robots grab the most market share and learn which new companies unveil their robots.
Note that none of these robots have made their way to a production environment and deployed as employees with the exception of Sanctuary AI’s Phoenix for a week at a Canadian retail store. However, at the pace these companies are releasing promotional materials and updates on progress of their technology, and as fast as we’re seeing AI advancements, we could see robots in the workplace in 2023, if not 2024.
Compare the features of the Tesla Bot, Phoenix, and Figure 01 Humanoid Robots
If you’re interested in humanoid robots, it’s worth taking a look at the comparison table below to see how the Tesla Bot, Sanctuary AI Phoenix, and Figure 01 from Figure stack up against each other. The table provides a quick and easy way to compare key features and specifications of each robot side by side, making it easier to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each model.
|Tesla Bot||Sanctuary AI’s Phoenix||Figure AI’s Figure 01|
|Height||5’8″ (173 cm)||5’7″ (170 cm)||5’6″ (167.5 cm)|
|Weight||160 lbs (72.5 kg)||155 lbs (70 kg)||132 lbs (60 kg)|
|Payload||45 lbs (20.4 kg)||55 lbs (25 kg)||44 lbs (20 kg)|
|Speed||5 mph||3 mph||2.68 mph (1.2 m/s)|
|AI||Utilizes Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) computer for autonomous operation.||Utilizes Sanctuary AI’s Carbon control system.||N/A|
|Unique Features||Motor torque control, environment discovery and memorization, AI training from human-tracked movements, object manipulation. Can map out environment.||Human-like form and function with 20 degrees of freedom in its hands, symbolic and logical reasoning coupled with modern LLMs, domain-specific integrations, and extensions, uses Deep Learning & Reinforcement Learning.||Designed to operate in human-designed environments as a commercially viable autonomous humanoid. Modular design for customization and expansion, easy to replace parts to suit user’s needs.|
|Operator||Autonomous, trained by watching humans, learns through experience and data.||Teleoperation, meaning it’s controlled by a human operator for training and assistance.||Autonomous, designed to think, learn, and interact with its environment on its own.|