Humanoid robots will appear at Mercedes-Benz factories: What will they do?

March 19, 2024  16:17

The factories of the German automaker Mercedes-Benz will feature humanoid robots developed by Apptronik from Austin, Texas. Robots are expected to assist workers and perform a range of tasks in the production process.

As tells, as part of the pilot program, Apptron humanoid robots ik will be used to automate “low-skilled, physically complex manual labor." One of these bipedal robots, Apollo, stands five feet eight inches tall, weighs 160 pounds, and can lift up to 55 pounds. The robot was designed and built to work alongside people in industrial settings and looks like a slightly friendlier version of Tesla's Optimus.

Mercedes and Apptronik are still exploring potential uses of robots in manufacturing—in this case, cars. Humanoid robots will likely be used to deliver and inspect parts early on. The Financial Times reports that such robots are already being tested at the automaker's plant in Hungary, where there is a labor shortage as many workers immigrate to Western Europe.

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“This is a new frontier and we want to understand the potential both for robotics and automotive manufacturing to fill labor gaps in areas such as low-skill, repetitive and physically demanding work and to free up our highly skilled team members on the line to build the world’s most desirable cars,” said Jörg Bürzer, who oversees production processes at Mercedes.

It should be noted that Mercedes is not the first automaker to use humanoid robots in its factories. Earlier this year, BMW announced its partnership with California-based Figure, which also plans to test the effectiveness of robots. The 01 robot, produced by Figure, is currently in use at BMW's US plants in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As with Mercedes and Apptronik, BMW and Figure are still trying to figure out the best way to use robots in manufacturing. They say they intend to use robots to automate “complex, unsafe or tedious” manufacturing tasks.

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