Bay Area-based robotics firm Figure this week announced that its humanoid officially took its first steps — a milestone it hit a few days shy of of the company’s first anniversary. Figure has made a good deal of progress in a short period, due in no small part to founder and CEO Brett Adcock’s initial $100 million bootstrapping.
Of course, running any robotics company is a wildly expensive endeavor, let alone one that is building hardware and software for a multipurpose humanoid — a longtime holy grail in this space. Figure has since started looking beyond its walls for funding to help build that dream. In May, it announced a sizable $70 million Series A led by Parkway Venture Capital.
At the time, Adcock told me that raising more was on the table for the short term. Today the company tells TechCrunch that it’s adding another $9 million equity investment to its war chest courtesy of Intel Capital, which might soon prove to be a strategic partnership.
For some time now, Figure has been showcasing its progress for interested parties, and Intel clearly liked what it saw in the Figure 01 ‘bot.
“Intel Capital is constantly searching for companies that push the boundaries of innovation, and we believe that Figure has the potential to shift the way the world thinks about artificial intelligence,” says Intel Capital managing director Mark Lydon. “Figure’s focus on enhancing the labor economy is an essential part of our future, and we look forward to being at the forefront to support humanoid development.”
Figure is far from the only firm currently working toward a general-purpose humanoid. Tesla, Apptronik and Open AI-backed 1X are all looking to tackle this immensely difficult problem. Unlike Tesla’s plan to be all things to all people at launch, Figure’s approach is a deliberate one, focusing primarily on industrial warehouse applications to start.
When I visited the company’s HQ back in May, they had recently finished a mock warehouse that sits in the center of the office. At the time, however, the robot wasn’t ready to begin testing.
Access to Intel through its venture arm provides a lot of potential resources for a young company like Figure — especially one that is looking to get up, running and scaling quickly.
“Intel Capital is at the forefront of making big, bold frontier bets and we are excited to share the same vision of a better future,” Adcock says in a release. “This investment along with the global resources and expertise of the Intel team will help accelerate the growth and success of Figure.”
Figure’s team is still fairly small at 50, though the company has been doing a lot of strategic hiring, including former employees from places like Boston Dynamics, Tesla and Apple.