“Unstoppable: 1X Secures $100M from OpenAI for Advancements in Humanoid Robotics”

The race to perfect the humanoid form factor will be one of 2024’s defining tech stories. 1X is a name (well, a number and letter) that surprisingly doesn’t get as much column space as most of the above. That underlying technology will almost certainly play an outsized role in shaping robotics’ future, and OpenAI has seemingly picked its horse. The humanoid robot strikes a similar figure (so to speak) as some of the competition. The logic (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) is that humanoids are the ideal form factor for navigating environments built by humanoids for humanoids.

The year 2024 is shaping up to be a defining moment for the world of technology as companies push to perfect the humanoid form factor. In a race to bring groundbreaking systems to the market, big names like Tesla, Apptronik, and Figure have entered the fray, while Agility has made strides towards the finish line by partnering with Amazon for a warehouse pilot program. However, amongst the well-known players, there is a number and letter combination that surprisingly isn’t mentioned as often.

The Norwegian company 1X may have flown under the radar, but their entrance into the conversation last April definitely made a splash with a $23.5 million funding round. While the amount is impressive, it’s the players involved that truly caught people’s attention. Leading the round was OpenAI, a powerhouse in the world of generative AI, which has played a significant role in the technology’s meteoric rise over the past year. It’s clear that OpenAI has chosen their champion for the future of robotics.

Not content to stay in the background, 1X has now announced a massive $100 million Series B round, nearly quadrupling their initial funding. While OpenAI’s name may not be front and center this time, they are still a major player, with EQT Ventures taking the top billing. In total, 1X has now raised an impressive $125 million.

The company’s main focus is their humanoid robot, NEO, which shares a similar appearance with its competition. Its purpose, however, is unique, as NEO is designed to address the global labor shortage in industries that rely heavily on human labor. The logic behind this is that humanoids are the ideal form factor for navigating environments built by and for humanoids. It’s a straightforward concept that, on the surface, makes logical sense.

But as with any innovative technology, there are skeptics. Some believe that humanoid systems are over-engineered, while others rightfully point out that true general-purpose functionality is still a ways off. This is where generative AI comes in, as it has the potential to alleviate many of these issues.

With a significant sum of money at their disposal, CEO Bernt Øivind Børnich has expressed their gratitude for the hard work of their team, stating, “This is the first time we are able to offer a payout to our dedicated team. Their contributions have been pivotal to our success.” The funds will also be invested in enhancing the company’s Embodied AI technology and further developing their humanoid robot, NEO.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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