Robotics startup Figure has signed a deal with automaker BMW to introduce its “general purpose” humanoid robots at the company’s manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The robots are designed to automate complex, unsafe or tedious production tasks, and if they prove viable, they will be gradually introduced at the BMW plant.

“Single-purpose robotics have saturated the commercial market for decades, but the potential of general-purpose robotics remains untapped,” said Figure CEO Brett Adcock. “Figure robots enable companies to increase productivity, reduce costs and create a safer and more consistent environment.”

Automakers such as Honda and Hyundai have been prominent in the development of walking robots over the years, but attempts to integrate them into the real world have gained momentum. Tesla unveiled the second generation of its Optimus robot in December, and Amazon is testing Agility Robotics’ Digit in its US warehouses.

BMW’s South Carolina manufacturing facility is the company’s only U.S. plant, where approximately 1,500 X-Series and XM-Series vehicles are assembled each day. It currently employs about 11,000 people and is the largest US automotive exporter by value, with exports valued at $9.6 billion.

Neither company has disclosed how many Figure humanoid robots will be deployed at the facility or what tasks they are expected to perform. Adcock told Reuters the partnership would start with “small amounts” that would increase as performance targets were met.

Source: The Verge