Mercedes-Benz and Apptronik have entered into a commercial agreement to pilot the latter’s Apollo humanoid robots in Mercedes-Benz manufacturing facilities.

This partnership marks Apptronik’s first publicly announced commercial deployment of Apollo and the first application of humanoid robotics for Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes-Benz aims to use Apollo robots for logistics such as delivering parts to the production line for assembly and inspecting components.

The robots will primarily automate low-skill, physically challenging, manual labour tasks that are repetitive and relatively easy to automate but essential for manufacturing processes.

Apollo robots are designed to operate alongside humans, with a form factor similar to a human worker and unique force control architecture for safe operation.

“Advancements in robotics and AI open up new opportunities also for us,” said Jörg Burzer, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group. “We are exploring new possibilities with the use of robotics to support our skilled workforce in manufacturing.

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“This is a new frontier and we want to understand the potential both for robotics and automotive manufacturing to fill labour gaps in areas such as low skill, repetitive and physically demanding work and to free up our highly skilled team members,” he added.

Apptronik’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz reflects significant investor interest in humanoid robotics, as evidenced by AI robotics company Figure’s recent $675m funding raise from investors like Microsoft and OpenAI, valuing the start-up at $2.6bn.

Industrial robot revenues hit $23.8bn in 2023 and are set to rise at a 10% CAGR between 2023 and 2030, according to research firm GlobalData.

The exoskeleton market, meanwhile, recorded revenues of $520m in 2023, with GlobalData estimating this will grow by 38% between 2023 and 2024. Exoskeletons are used primarily in healthcare, defence and industrial scenarios.