/This NASA-backed robot is the droid coworker you’ve been dreaming of

This NASA-backed robot is the droid coworker you’ve been dreaming of

KEY IDEA: Apptronik and Argodesign designed Apollo as an antidote to sci-fi tropes.

Original author and publication date: Jesús Díaz (Fast Company) – August 28, 2023

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Our humanoid coworkers are already here.

From the article:   

At 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and 160 pounds, Apollo 1 stands in a warehouse ready for the next shipment to arrive. Its eyes are fixed on the landing zone as it prepares to unload the boxes from a truck and move them into shelves and pallets. Its fully electrical human-shaped body—capable of lifting 55-pound boxes without flinching—is made of metal, plastic, some silver fabric, and metal actuators.

Apollo, clad in white, gray, and bright orange paintwork, features “tattoos” that identify the function of each of its parts. Its black chest reads Charlie—the humanoid’s name—set in sober, bright white sans serif typeface, along with simple icons that tell its current status. Its face remains blank until a human coworker passes by. A subtle smile illuminates its white face before disappearing a second later. The quick expression does its job of acknowledging the human’s presence without saying a word.

Apollo 1 is the first functional humanoid worker in history that can autonomously operate in a factory alongside its meatbag colleagues of today. It will not be washing your dishes or working at oil platforms just yet, but as you watch Apollo working, unloading boxes from a conveyor belt, its design just feels right, sort of like the iPhone felt when you held it in hand for the first time. 

Made by robotics company Apptronik, Apollo is the distillation of years of humanoid development and the design work of Austin-based creative studio Argodesign. The NASA-backed robot is designed to perform warehouse tasks like lifting boxes and placing them on shelves. But unlike many of its droid-worker brethren, both its appearance and user experience goes against many of the preconceived notions of what a humanoid robot should be. 

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