Humanoid robot Apollo could rival Tesla's Optimus bot

The company calls it the iPhone of bots as development partners will further applications of this humanoid robot.
Ameya Paleja
Close up of the Apollo humanoid robot
Close up of the Apollo humanoid robot


Texas-based Apptronik unveiled its first commercial humanoid robot designed to complement the industrial workforce by doing repetitive tasks that humans do not want to do, a press release said. The bot is pocket-friendly and aims to be interaction friendly, making it easier to work alongside humans even in some of the toughest environments, a definite competitor for Tesla's humanoid bot Optimus.

The use of robotics in industrial workspaces is inevitable, and companies such as Amazon have already deployed them in large numbers to increase the efficiency of their operations. A humanoid robot, though, is a much more challenging feat to achieve, and even the likes of Tesla have been developing it for a few years.

Founded in 2016, Apptronik might seem like a newbie in robotics. However, the company has been spun out of the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. The team has a more than a decade-long history of building humanoid robots and was heavily involved in making Valkyrie, NASA's first-ever bipedal robot.

What can Apollo do?

Built roughly the same size as an average human, Apollo is five feet and eight inches (172 cm) tall and weighs 160 pounds (72.5 kg). The bot can lift payloads of up to 55 pounds (~25 kg). Unlike a conventional industrial robot, Apollo has a unique force control architecture that makes it a collaborative robot.

The design of the robot ensures that it makes people working around it feel safe and comfortable. The company has equipped the bot with digital panels on the face and chest for accessible communication.

Apptronik's extensive experience building humanoids is evident in Apollo through its fine-grained hand movements or bipedal locomotion. The company also recognizes that not all bot applications require bipedal locomotion and therefore offers customers an option to pick between variants where the torso is mounted on wheels and even a stationary location.

Industry-friendly features

Their high development and manufacturing costs have been a significant deterrence in adopting humanoid robots. Apptronik approached this problem with a design that facilitates mass manufacture and avoids single-sourced core components. The humanoid production is planned at Apptronik's Austin facility to keep costs low and bots affordable.

The battery pack on the Apollo can provide it with four hours of runtime. However, instead of sending the bots to a charging station, discharged batteries can be swapped, and the bot can return to work immediately instead of spending hours refueling. This feature can be useful for operations that run around the clock and help increase work output.

Humanoid robot Apollo could rival Tesla's Optimus bot
The Apollo bot working on a conveyor belt

“As labor challenges and employment trends continue to impact our economy, we need to fundamentally change the way we think about work, particularly in the warehouse and the supply chain,” said Jeff Cardenas, co-founder and CEO of Apptronik in the press release. “People don’t want to do robotic, physically demanding work in tough conditions and they shouldn’t have to. Humanoid robots are not just an answer to this challenge, they are a necessity."

The early version of the Apollo humanoid is aimed at handling tasks in the logistics and manufacturing industries. In the future, Apptronik is confident that the bot can work in oil and gas, construction, electronics production, retail, and elderly care at homes. These advances are aimed to be brought through by the company's development partners, making Apollo quite the iPhone of the humanoid robots industry.

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