OpenAI and robotics startup Figure AI to develop next-gen AI models for humanoid robots



summary
Summary

  • Added details on the funding round and OpenAI’s partnership with Figure AI

Update from February 29, 2024:

Figure AI makes its new funding round official: $675 million, as previously reported by Bloomberg, at a valuation of $2.6 billion.

What’s new is that OpenAI and Figure AI are entering into an additional partnership: Together, the companies plan to “develop next generation AI models for humanoid robots.”

The goal is to accelerate the time to market for robots by teaching them to process natural language and draw logical conclusions. The models are trained and run in Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

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Recently, Google Deepmind and its RT models have shown how natural language processing can significantly improve the everyday capabilities of robots.

OpenAI stopped its robotics research in 2021 to focus entirely on scaling AI models, but OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently hinted at a re-entry for OpenAI into robotics. At that point, he probably already had the Figure AI partnership in mind.

“We’ve always planned to come back to robotics and we see a path with Figure to explore what humanoid robots can achieve when powered by highly capable multimodal models,” Open AI VP of Product and Partnerships Peter Welinder said in a statement to PopSci.

“We see a tremendous advantage of having a large language model or multi models model on the robot so that we can interact with it and give what we call ‘semantic understanding,’” Figure Founder and CEO Brett Adcock said.

Update from February 24, 2024:

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Bloomberg, Figure AI has raised $675 million in funding. Investors include Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, OpenAI, and Microsoft.

Bezos invests $100 million through his company Explore Investments. Microsoft is investing $95 million, while Nvidia and an Amazon-affiliated fund are investing $50 million each. OpenAI contributes $5 million after deciding not to acquire Figure AI.

Other backers include Intel, Samsung, LG Innotek, Parkway Venture Capital, Align Ventures, ARK Venture Fund, Aliya Capital Partners, Tamarack, Boscolo Intervest and BOLD Capital Partners.

Original article from February 1, 2024:

Figure AI eyes a $1.9 billion valuation as Microsoft and OpenAI show interest in its life-saving robots

Figure AI, a startup developing human-like robots, is in talks to secure up to $500 million in a funding round potentially led by Microsoft and OpenAI.

The company is looking to attract additional investors, with Microsoft potentially investing $95 million and OpenAI contributing $5 million. The deal could value Figure AI at $1.9 billion before pre-financing.

The company’s AI-powered robot, Figure 01, is designed to perform dangerous tasks that are unsuitable for humans. It is intended to alleviate labor shortages.

Figure AI previously raised $70 million in a funding round led by Parkway Venture Capital. The current round hasn’t closed yet, and the investment amount could change.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently said in a podcast with Bill Gates that OpenAI is looking at robotics in the long term, after shutting down its robotics development in 2021.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently said in a podcast with Bill Gates that OpenAI has a long-term view on robotics. It ended its robotics development in 2021.



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