Bill Gates Endorses Humanoid Robots: The Rise of General-Purpose Robotics in Modern Industry. Bill Gates, a firm believer in general-purpose humanoid robots, has sparked renewed interest in a longstanding debate within the robotics industry. This debate, particularly vibrant lately, revolves around humanoid robots. These robots have always been a key discussion point, but recent developments by new startups such as 1X and Figure, and initiatives by established companies like Tesla, have brought them back into prominence.
Supporters of humanoid robots argue that since our world is designed for humans, creating robots in our likeness is logical. Humanoid robots offer benefits like extended reach, the ability to navigate stairs, and dexterity akin to human design.
However, the notion that the human body represents the ultimate in organic design is misleading or false. Personal experience with degenerative disc disease highlights the flaws in our physical design. The humanoid form also contradicts longstanding beliefs favoring single-purpose robots, which excel in performing a specific task repeatedly. The concept of “general purpose” in robotics is often mentioned without fully acknowledging its complexity.
Yet, humanoid robots have gained a significant advocate in Bill Gates. Recently, he listed several robotics startups and labs he finds exciting, including three focusing on humanoid robots. The most notable is Agility, with their Digit robot, which is less human-like than the other two. The list also includes Apptronik, creator of Apollo, and UCLA’s RoMeLa, known for the soccer-playing ARTEMIS robot.
Gates’ comments on Apptronik highlight the debate: Is it better to have multiple robots each specialized in a single task, or one versatile robot capable of multiple tasks and learning more? Apptronik, emerging from a human-centered robotics lab at the University of Texas, leans towards the latter, developing humanoid bi-pedal robots like Apollo for varied tasks from factory work to household assistance. Regarding Agility, Gates points out the potential benefits of designing robots similar to humans for seamless integration into our environments. Digit, in particular, is leading in real-world applications, including a pilot at Amazon warehouses and a partnership with BMW through Figure.
Other companies Gates mentioned include Field AI, focusing on robotic perception, and Tevel, which develops apple-picking drones.
While Gates’ endorsement might not drastically shift opinions towards humanoid robots, and despite not being a roboticist himself, his interest in the field underscores the growing mainstream recognition and legitimacy of humanoid robots.
AI chatbots will teach kids to read within 18 months Bill Gates says(Opens in a new browser tab)
Figure’s Humanoid Robots Revolutionize BMW Manufacturing: A Milestone in Commercial Robotics Deployment(Opens in a new browser tab)
What is Python?(Opens in a new browser tab)
Robotics in Healthcare: The Future of Robots in Medicine(Opens in a new browser tab)
Civil Engineering: The Backbone of Modern Society(Opens in a new browser tab)