Apollo humanoid lends a helping hand on the Mercedes production line

Humanoid robots are entering the workforce. Following in the footsteps of Figure 01 at BMW and Digit in Amazon’s R&D facility, Apptronik’s Apollo bot is helping skilled human workers build cars for Mercedes-Benz.

According to Goldman Sachs, the global humanoid industrial robot market could reach US$38 billion by 2035, with analysts noting that “humanoids are particularly appealing for tasks that are ‘dangerous, dirty and dull.'” The team also suggests that customers could even pay a premium for robots that can undertake dangerous tasks that humans are not so keen on, such as nuclear reactor maintenance.

But such perils are unlikely to greet Apollo during the Mercedes pilot announced on Friday, where the auto maker is looking to relieve its workers of humdrum tedium, repetitive tasks and physically demanding workloads.

“We are exploring new possibilities with the use of robotics to support our skilled workforce in manufacturing,” said Jörg Burzer from the Mercedes-Benz Group. “This is a new frontier and we want to understand the potential both for robotics and automotive manufacturing to fill labor gaps in areas such as low skill, repetitive and physically demanding work and to free up our highly skilled team members on the line to build the world’s most desirable cars.”

Apollo is the latest in almost a dozen robot systems developed by University of Texas at Austin spin-out tech company, Apptronik. The modular humanoid was introduced in August last year.

"Apollo’s friendly design allows it to work alongside people while simultaneously taking on the physically demanding tasks," says Apptronik
“Apollo’s friendly design allows it to work alongside people while simultaneously taking on the physically demanding tasks,” says Apptronik


The Mercedes model features a sculpted but blank face with LED eyes and a sensor array unibrow. The big ol’ gap through the head appears to have been filled in with a grille, and the chest now displays a three-pointed star instead of an OLED interface. Apollo stands 5.67 ft (172.72 cm) in height, and weighs in at 160 lb (73 kg).

The humanoid is able to heft loads of up to 55 lb (25 kg) at a time using powerful arms ending in capable five-digit hands, for as long as its swappable battery can power its systems – about 4 hours per pack – with Apptronik saying that “a unique force control architecture” makes for safe operation around human workers.

The Financial Times reports that the Apollo pilot is taking place at a Mercedes manufacturing facility in Hungary, where there’s a labor shortage in the auto industry. The company will look into different use cases for the robot helper on the production line, including delivering components and kit totes to workers on the factory floor while simultaneously inspecting the parts.

“Mercedes plans to use robotics and Apollo for automating some low skill, physically challenging, manual labor – a model use case which we’ll see other organizations replicate in the months and years to come,” said Apptronik CEO and co-founder, Jeff Cardenas.

Exactly how long the pilot will last and how many Apollo humanoids are being trialed by Mercedes have not been revealed.

Source: Apptronik

Latest articles


Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here