Figure Humanoid Robots To Begin Work in BMW’s South Carolina Plant

At CarNewsCafe, we see the advent of humanoid robots as inevitable in the automotive space.

Despite the similarity in looks to the Terminator cyborg, Figure’s general purpose humanoid robots (aka “Figure 01”) are being accepted as a next-generation tool for automotive manufacturing. BMW will begin using the robots in its South Carolina plant soon. Training of the machine-learning humanoid robots is underway, though Figure and BMW are not disclosing what jobs the robots will be performing once operational later this year.

Figure has released video (below) of the robots learning to make coffee upon a verbal command. The robot figured out how to do it on its own after watching video demonstrations. This illustrated that Figure’s goal of having the robots be capable of learning tasks after being shown how to accomplish them was met.

The commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing has Figure working with BMW and its plant operations team to identify use cases for the robots at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. Training for some of those cases has begun, with deployment of the robots to be staged soon.

This is being touted as the first commercial use of humanoid robots in the world. It is certainly the first time that these robots have been used in automotive in a situation where the automaker was not in ownership of the company supplying the robots.

Figure, for its part, says that it chose an automaker as its first commercial customer because automakers already have extensive experience with robotics in manufacturing scenarios. That makes them both more comfortable with the idea and more understanding of the process towards getting them online.

Company CEO Brett Adcock says that Figure will be open and forthcoming of its progress and plans to post video regularly to its YouTube channel as the 01 progresses through training to fulfillment.

At CarNewsCafe, we see the advent of humanoid robots as inevitable in the automotive space. Automation is already a large part of manufacturing and as labor costs increase, the demand for cheaper options will grow. For its part, we suspect that the Figure 01 will largely be doing the more dangerous or strenuously repetitive jobs that are currently done by humans. As well as the easier and repetitive robotic jobs already being automated, but with machines that require a lot of labor to reprogram or move around.

Just don’t give them any phased plasma rifles.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at