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Humanoid Robots Are Coming For Warehouse Jobs

Brittany Jordan



Photo courtesy of Apptronik

Many warehouses are already using robots, but the introduction of humanoid robots is a first. However, other industries are targeted such as manufacturing, elder care and health care, food production and agriculture. Production expected to start in late 2024.  ⁃ TN Editor

Humanoid robots are starting to work side by side with actual people in warehouses for the first time, moving heavy boxes and containers.

Why it matters: Labor-saving robots with dexterous fingers and a human appearance are expected to reshape the workforce in various fields, from eldercare and food prep to manufacturing and heavy industry.

  • The trick is to get them to walk without falling, hold a charge long enough to be useful, and manipulate things without fumbling.
  • The brass ring? Housework — because who doesn’t want a robot to do the dishes and the laundry?

The latest: The newest humanoid robot, unveiled Aug. 23, is an all-electric model named Apollo made by an Austin-based startup called Apptronik.

  • Apollo is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds and can lift 55 pounds.(See a video of the bot in action.)
  • “Science fiction has promised us these for a long time,” Apptronik CEO Jeff Cardenas tells Axios

Driving the news: Apollo, which can run for four hours before its battery needs to be swapped, is one of several first-generation robots designed for live action in the workplace.

  • “Initially, it’s going to start working in the supply chain — doing basic material handling tasks, moving boxes and totes,” Cardenas says.
  • This version “has initial applications, but it’s a software update away from a new feature or functionality,” he adds. “Long term, really the sky’s the limit in terms of what these types of systems will be able to do.”

Where it stands: Apptronik — which won’t name its customers yet — has only pumped out a handful of production prototypes, but says Apollo is suited for “mass manufacturability.”

  • “Right now we have two Apollos that are built, and we’re building another four,” Cardenas said. “These are the alpha units … our engineering validation prototypes.”
  • The next step will be producing beta units — fewer than 100 — which will work outside the lab, Cardenas said. “From there, we move into full production, by the end of 2024.”

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Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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