It may sound like science fiction to have humanoids build colonies on the moon or manage household chores. However, the team at Austin, Texas-based robotics startup Apptronik sees a day in the future when general-purpose robots will take on “dull, dirty, and dangerous” professions in place of people. Apollo, the newest humanoid robot from Apptronik, had its design presented on Wednesday.
Standing 5 feet, 8 inches (1.7 meters) tall and weighing 160 pounds (72.6 kilograms), the robot is of human size. Apollo has been built to be produced in large quantities and work alongside people securely. It can lift 55 pounds (25 kilograms). The robot operates on electricity instead of hydraulics, which aren’t thought to be as safe, and has a four-hour battery that can be swapped out so it can work for a 22-hour workweek.
The Austin-based company Argodesign equipped Apollo with features that are intended to feel approachable—and even friendly—in order to avoid the “uncanny valley,” a phenomenon in which people experience unease upon seeing a robot that resembles them.
Furthermore, the robot’s chest is covered with digital screens that clearly communicate the amount of battery life left, the task it is now working on, when it will finish, and what it will do next. Apollo also has a face and makes deliberate actions, such as tilting its head to point in a particular direction.
Apollo’s initial use case is in logistics, where it will do physically taxing tasks within warehouses to enhance the supply chain by alleviating manpower shortages.
“The focus of the lab was all about how humans and robots will interact in the future,” Cardenas said. “As humans, our most valuable resource is time, and our time here is limited. And as toolmakers, we can now build for ourselves tools that give us more time back.”
According to Shaun Azimi, head of the dexterous robotics team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the robot, which is 6 feet, 2 inches (1.9 meters) tall and weighs 300 pounds (136 kilograms), is a bipedal humanoid robot capable of dexterous manipulation and walking (including over and around obstacles), carrying objects, and opening doors.