SPARTANBURG, SC—BMW Manufacturing Co. plans to use humanoid robots at its flagship assembly plant here. It has signed a commercial agreement with Figure AI Inc. to “deploy general purpose robots in automotive manufacturing environments.”

Figure’s machines are designed to “enable the automation of difficult, unsafe or tedious tasks throughout the manufacturing process, which in turn allows employees to focus on skills and processes that cannot be automated, as well as continuous improvement in production efficiency and safety.”

“Single-purpose robotics have saturated the commercial market for decades, but the potential of general purpose robotics is completely untapped,” claims Brett Adcock, founder and CEO of Figure. “[Our] robots will enable companies to increase productivity, reduce costs, and create a safer and more consistent environment.

“We look forward to working side-by-side with BMW Manufacturing to integrate AI and robotics into automotive production,” says Adcock.

Under the agreement, BMW and Figure will pursue a milestone-based approach. In the first phase, Figure will identify initial use cases to apply humanoid robots in automotive production. Once the first phase has been completed, the Figure robots will begin staged deployment at BMW’s factory in South Carolina.

“The automotive industry, and with it the production of vehicles, is evolving rapidly,” says Robert Engelhorn, Ph.D., president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “[We are] committed to integrating innovative technologies in our production systems to drive our future forward as an industry leader and innovator.

“The use of general purpose robot solutions has the potential to make productivity more efficient, to support the growing demands of our consumers, and to enable our team to focus on the transformation ahead of us,” adds Engelhorn.

Beyond the deployment of humanoid robots in an automotive manufacturing environment, BMW Manufacturing and Figure jointly will explore advanced technology topics such as artificial intelligence, robot control, manufacturing virtualization and robot integration.

Other automakers, such as Honda, Hyundai, Tesla and Toyota, have also been developing humanoid robots for possible use on assembly lines.