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OpenAI-Backed 1X Wants to Put a Humanoid Robot to Work in Your Home

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Watch out, Tesla. Robotics startup 1X has introduced its newest humanoid robot, NEO, designed to autonomously perform household tasks by capitalizing on its ability to walk on two legs and converse using artificial intelligence.

1X is the latest player to try and bring robots into the home, betting on its ostensibly lifelike appearance and its ability to understand verbal commands, grasp objects, and complete chores that only humans could previously perform.

To make this sci-fi vision a reality, 1X announced today that it secured $100 million in Series B funding. This new cash inflow, led by EQT Ventures, is key for the next phase of growth for 1X to seize a leading role in the burgeoning field of domestic robotics.

We’re so proud to announce that we’ve closed our Series B round of funding. This is a major milestone in the life of 1X, as we keep innovating to bring a new generation of bipedal androids to the consumer market. We can’t wait for you to bring NEO home. https://t.co/9ghIfpLXSO

— 1X (@1x_tech) January 11, 2024

“We are thrilled that these leading investors are supporting 1X’s mission of safely deploying androids with Smart Behavior into new markets,” Bernt Øivind Børnich, CEO of 1X, said in an official statement. «Our next milestone will be scaling our data collection strategy for Embodied AI and offering NEO to consumers.”

NEO is 1X’s latest lineup of robots. As Decrypt previously reported, this generation is an evolution over the company’s previous model EVE. With the backing of notable global investors, the company expects to be able to bring NEO to market, its second-generation bipedal android designed for consumer use.

Tailored for home assistance, NEO moves robotics technology from industrial and logistics functions to playing a vital role in the domestic sphere.

Render of how NEO would look like. Image: 1X

The genesis of the 1X vision

1X’s journey is guided by its commitment to harness the potential of AI and robotics to meet global labor demands. This merger of AI and robotics drew the attention of OpenAI, which led a previous $23.5 million investment round to help launch the startup.

The expectations surrounding NEO are high.

“We’re convinced 1X with their NEO androids will play a crucial role in the pioneering steps towards the first forays of our technological and human future,” Ted Persson from EQT Ventures said.

The company’s earlier model, EVE, was deployed across Europe and the United States, and demonstrated remarkable versatility, from patrolling as security guards to potentially serving in healthcare settings. EVE’s design, featuring a humanoid head and autonomously moving arms, allows it to perform tasks that were once exclusively human.

NEO, the latest addition to 1X’s lineup, builds on this foundation. Its bipedal locomotion mimics human movement, enabling it to navigate and interact within a home environment effectively. The integration of advanced AI allows NEO to adapt and learn from its surroundings, progressively enhancing its ability to undertake complex domestic tasks.

AI and robotics and the race for dominance

This substantial fundraise by 1X’s place it in direct competition with other major players in the field. Tesla, under the leadership of Elon Musk, is also developing its line of humanoid robots, known as «Optimus.» Recent showcases of Optimus have demonstrated its advanced features, including improved hand movements and a slimmer figure, indicating Tesla’s own commitment to revolutionizing the robotics industry.

❗Elon Musk: «My prediction is that Tesla’s long-term value, a majority of the long-term value, will be Optimus. And that prediction I am very confident of.» pic.twitter.com/btE0gnjnWf

— Smoke-away (@SmokeAwayyy) May 17, 2023

And no enthusiast could forget about Boston Dynamics, which has become a legend in the field by showcasing its robots equipped with advanced mobility and intelligence. These robots are designed for challenging environments, ranging from industrial plants to distribution centers, showcasing the diverse potential of robotics technology.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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