According to the CEO of 1X, a company backed by OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, a robot capable of performing nursing and bartending tasks while using its human-like arms is currently operational in the United States and select parts of Europe.
Bernt Bornich, the CEO and founder of 1X, a robotics company, says that their humanoid robot, EVE, has been active since April this year, surpassing their initial expectations. This groundbreaking humanoid marks the first instance in human history where a truly humanoid robot has been successfully integrated into a professional environment, surpassing the highly anticipated Tesla robot promoted by Elon Musk.
A real-life robocop, powered by AI
Currently, the robot has been deployed as security guards at two industrial locations, distinguishing itself from other security robots by possessing a head, a face, and two autonomously moving arms. These patrolling EVE humanoids are supervised by human security guards.
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Interestingly, in the event of any issues with a robot, the security personnel can virtually enter and control the robot’s body, providing immediate presence as if physically there. Bernt Bornich expresses his optimism that these robots will soon also be employed as caregivers for the elderly.
Bornich shares a grand vision aimed at addressing the scarcity of labour. The solution lies in acquiring a substantial amount of data. He envisions a society where the concept of labour shortage becomes irrelevant, alongside sustainable energy generation capable of transforming into any desired product or service. Bornich anticipates the realization of this vision within the next five years, barring any obstacles, or at least within this decade. The future holds great excitement and potential for such advancements.
For several years, non-humanoid robots, which do not resemble humans in shape, have been utilized for security tasks. Examples include the egg-shaped K5 developed by Knightscope in California and the two-wheeled robot created by the start-up Ascento, which has been employed to patrol railway depots in Switzerland.
However, the newly introduced humanoid robot sets itself apart from these existing models. In addition to its human-like appearance, it possesses manipulators, or robotic hands, that allows it to perform tasks such as opening doors, and windows, and picking up objects.
Humanoids step out of the lab
Previous generations of humanoids were primarily confined to laboratory settings and did not transition effectively into real-world applications. Bernt Bornich emphasizes that their security guards are addressing a genuine problem by offering a higher quality and more affordable service. The EVE robot is currently operational at two locations in Europe and America, and it has also undergone testing as a nurse or caregiver for the elderly.
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Mr Bornich distinguishes his robot from previous models, which he refers to as mere “gimmicks,” by emphasizing that his creation serves a practical purpose in society. During testing, the wheeled robots were observed to prompt people to clear their path, indicating their efficacy. These tests encompassed various environments, including retail stores, logistics centres, and healthcare facilities.
The decision to commence with security-related tasks was a logical choice for Mr Bornich, as it involves a relatively narrow range of responsibilities. Every action performed by the robot contributes to the training of its system, allowing it to improve its task execution without human intervention.
Answer to labour shortages in afflicted areas
When asked about the advantages of these devices, Mr Bornich stated that they have the potential to address labour shortages within a remarkably short timeframe, possibly within five years. The company is already engaged in the development of an alternative robot named NEO, which would have bipedal locomotion, enabling it to walk like a human.
In the United States alone, there are currently 1.1 million individuals employed as security guards. Bernt Bornich reiterates his company’s grand vision to address the labour shortage issue. While they have a clear understanding of how to solve it, they require a substantial amount of data.
He envisions a future where labour scarcity is no longer a concern, alongside the establishment of sustainable energy generation that can be transformed into any desired product or service. Bornich expresses excitement about the potential realization of this future within five years if there are no major obstacles, or at least within this decade.
The company, valued at $564 billion, is also developing its own humanoid robot resembling EVE, as shown in a recently released video. However, it has yet to be deployed in real-world scenarios. The EVE robot can be controlled by human security guards through virtual reality if needed and has the capability of using its robot hands to interact with and navigate its surroundings, open doors and windows, and hold objects.
About EVE, the first humanoid deployed successfully
An LED face on the EVE Robot enables it to display reactions, and operators can communicate through the robot.
Established in 2015, 1X operates from two offices located in Moss, Norway, and Dallas, US. They currently manufacture 10 EVE robots each month. Bornich mentions that their robots have undergone testing in pilot programs across retail, logistics, and healthcare sectors, but the company chose to prioritize their deployment as security guards.
Integrating EVE into real-world job roles will generate valuable data that can be utilized to train the android for various other tasks, including caregiving for the elderly.
Bornich highlights that security guards are already accustomed to working with technology, utilizing camera systems, alarm sensors, and motion sensors. Now, these same guards will be able to operate a fleet of EVE robots.
He compares the impact of utilizing the robot to using a screwdriver, emphasizing that it enhances the effectiveness and amplifies the capabilities of the guards.
Bornich plans the next generation of robots to be deployed in assisted living environments, providing care for the elderly and others. He emphasizes that these robots are not just labourers but also companions, designed to assist and support individuals.
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Generative AI is a big part of humanoid robots
The company builds robots like EVE and the upcoming two-legged NEO from the ground up, incorporating their own advanced motor technologies, tendons, drive trains resembling muscles, sensor software, and AI.
The investment round led by OpenAI’s Startup Fund raised $23.5 million for 1X robots, also providing the company with early access to OpenAI technology.
Bornich reveals that they are also working on language models, enabling the robot to understand and execute commands. This aspect of their work is centred on embodied AI, where the robot comprehends and carries out real-world tasks based on the provided instructions. Bornich describes this capability as “pretty magical.”