Mercedes-Benz testing Apollo humanoid

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Apptronik Apollo moves a tote.

Apollo transferring a tote on the Mercedes manufacturing facility. | Credit: Apptronik

Apptronik at this time introduced that main automotive model Mercedes-Benz is testing its Apollo humanoid robotic. As a part of the settlement, Apptronik and Mercedes-Benz will collaborate on figuring out functions for Apollo in automotive settings.

Mercedes-Benz is exploring how properly Apollo can convey components to the manufacturing line for employees to assemble, whereas concurrently inspecting the parts. Apollo can even be examined at delivering totes of kitted components later within the manufacturing course of.

“When we set out to build Apollo, an agreement like the one we’re announcing today with Mercedes-Benz was a dream scenario,” Jeff Cardenas, co-founder & CEO of Apptronik, stated in a press assertion. “Mercedes plans to use robotics and Apollo for automating some low-skill, physically challenging, manual labor – a model use case which we’ll see other organizations replicate in the months and years to come.”

The Robot Report reached out to each Apptronik and Mercedes to be taught extra, however hadn’t heard again at press time. At the second, it’s unclear what number of Apollos are being examined, if a number of automotive crops are concerned, and what the extent of this partnership is. The pictures Apptronik shared present Apollo in a plant in Hungary.

Humanoid race heats up

Apptronik unveiled Apollo in August 2023 and is among the early innovators within the humanoid race, becoming a member of the likes of Agility Robotics’ Digit and Tesla Optimus. Since August, further producers have thrown their collective hats within the humanoid ring, together with 1X, Figure AI, Sanctuary AI, Unitree, LimX and Fourier Intelligence.

The robotics market is at a novel cut-off date the place the entire enabling applied sciences that make a humanoid viable are coming collectively. This consists of the massive leaps in AI maturity and mannequin coaching during the last two years, the facility of edge compute, battery capability, and the maturation of legged movement algorithms.

But there are at the least two huge looming questions: “What can humanoids reliably do?” and “Does it make sense for robots to be on legs versus wheels?” A key milestone for these humanoid producers is to move these early assessments and safe reference prospects that validate the robotic’s performance and assist information the product roadmap.

Automotive manufacturing is the main adopter of robotics worldwide. Automotive producers are underneath strain to enhance high quality, and cut back prices, all whereas struggling to take care of labor points. It makes good sense that the automotive market would discover how humanoids may assist. Optimus might be examined at inner Tesla manufacturing crops, Figure has an settlement with BMW, and Agility Robotics has landed pilots with Amazon and GXO Logistics.

Why humanoids? Why now?

Back to the query of “Why humanoids?” Apptronik stated the addition of humanoids to factories and crops would enable organizations like Mercedes-Benz to deploy robotics which might be optimized to carry out in areas which might be designed for people, thus avoiding full-scale facility redesigns which might be constructed round robots somewhat than folks. In brief, this strategy facilities on automating some bodily demanding, repetitive, and boring duties for which it’s more and more exhausting to search out dependable employees.

Apollo, which has a type issue that roughly matches the scale of a human employee (5 toes 8 inches tall and 160 lb with the power to raise 55 lb), is constructed to function in industrial areas. Combined with a novel power management structure that maintains protected operation round folks (just like a collaborative robotic versus a standard industrial robotic), Apollo’s design permits it to work alongside folks whereas concurrently taking over bodily demanding duties, Apptronik stated.

woman and apollo humanoid.

Apollo can safely work facet by facet and collaboratively with people on the manufacturing line. | Credit: Apptronik

“To build the most desirable cars, we continually evolve the future of automotive production. Advancements in robotics and AI open up new opportunities for us. We are exploring new possibilities with the use of robotics to support our skilled workforce in manufacturing,” stated Jörg Burzer, member of the board of administration of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, manufacturing, high quality & provide chain administration. “This is a new frontier, and we want to understand the potential both for robotics and automotive manufacturing to fill labor gaps in areas such as low skill, repetitive and physically demanding work and to free up our highly skilled team members on the line to build the world’s most desirable cars.”

Jonathan Hurst, co-founder and chief robotic officer of Agility Robotics, will keynote the Robotics Summit & Expo, which runs May 1-2 in Boston. The occasion expects greater than 5,000 attendees and is designed to assist robotics engineers overcome the technical challenges of constructing industrial robots. The Robotics Summit & Expo is produced by The Robot Report and mum or dad firm WTWH Media.

Hurst’s keynote on May 1 from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m. ET is titled “Humanoid Robots Get to Work.” It will discover the technological breakthroughs propelling humanoids like Digit into real-world use instances. Attendees will be taught concerning the ongoing challenges and alternatives and can go inside Digit’s first pilots.

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