OpenAI-backed 1X raises one other $100M for the race to humanoid robots

The race to excellent the humanoid type issue will likely be one among 2024’s defining tech tales. Final yr noticed the class warmth up, as corporations like Tesla, Apptronik and Figure debuted their methods, whereas Agility inched nearer to the end lining, asserting a warehouse pilot with Amazon.

1X is a reputation (properly, a quantity and letter) that surprisingly doesn’t get as a lot column house as a lot of the above. I say “surprising” as a result of the Norwegian agency entered the dialog with a splash again in April, asserting a $23.5 million round. That is a kind of fundraising circumstances the place the who debatable issues greater than the how a lot.

Tiger International’s participation is actually notable, but it surely was OpenAI, the spherical’s lead, that turned probably the most heads. Understandably so, given the position the agency has performed in generative AI’s stratospheric rise over the previous yr. That underlying know-how will virtually actually play an outsized position in shaping robotics’ future, and OpenAI has seemingly picked its horse.

This week, 1X introduced that it has almost quadrupled that already respectable determine with a $100 million Collection B. OpenAI’s identify is now not at prime of this checklist, nonetheless, with EQT Ventures getting prime billing. 1X’s whole fundraising now stands at an enviable $125 million.

The guts of the corporate’s play is NEO. The humanoid robotic strikes an identical determine (so to talk) as among the competitors. It additionally goals to deal with an identical subject — particularly world labor shortages. The logic (cease me for those who’ve heard this one earlier than) is that humanoids are the best type issue for navigating environments constructed by humanoids for humanoids. Makes sufficient sense on its face, proper?

There are, nonetheless, no scarcity of detractors. Some counsel such methods are over engineered. Others (probably rightfully) insist that true general-purpose performance is way additional off than we’re being led to consider. That latter bit, nonetheless, is likely one of the key locations the place generative AI can do a number of heavy lifting.

As for the place the big sum of cash will go, CEO Bernt Øivind Børnich has a refreshingly earnest response, nothing, “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 may even go towards enhancing the corporate’s Embodied AI providing and go-to-market for NEO.