The race to perfect the humanoid race will be one of the decisive technology stories of 2024. 1X is not the only player in the humanoid robots race. Other rivals include Tesla, Apptronik, Figure, and Agility, all of which have announced their own two-legged robot versions in the past year. However, 1X believes that collaborating with OpenAI gives them an edge in intelligence and adaptability.
1X, a Norwegian robotics startup, announced that it had received $100 million in a Series B round led by EQT Ventures, with the participation of Samsung NEXT, Nistad group, and existing investors Sandwater and Skagerak Capital. The company, backed by OpenAI, the research organization behind GPT-3 and DALL-E, aims to develop versatile human robots that can work with humans in various fields.
Tiger Global’s participation is certainly noteworthy, but OpenAI, who led the round, was the one who attracted the most attention. This is understandable, given the company’s role in the breakthrough development of synthetic AI in the past year. This basic technology is almost certain to play a major role in shaping the future of robots and OpenAI seems to have found its partner.
NEO is still in the prototype stage, but the company has demonstrated some of its capabilities, such as walking, running, jumping, and dancing. The company plans to use the new capital to bring NEO to market and target consumer segments, such as entertainment, education, and health care. The company also hopes that their humanoid robots will help solve the global labor shortage problem and bring benefits to society in the long term.
However, there are also critics. Some people think that such systems have been overdesigned. Others emphasize that general-purpose functionality is much further away than what we imagine. However, that is one of the areas where synthetic AI can help a lot of hard work.
Regarding the use of this large amount of money, CEO Bernt Øivind Børnich had a very serious answer, no joke, “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 used to improve the company’s expressive AI offering and bring NEO to market.