Robotic startup 1X, supported by OpenAI, secures a $100 million investment

ByYasmeeta Oon

Jan 12, 2024

1X Technologies, a pioneering Norwegian robotics startup, has recently made headlines with its substantial achievement in securing $100 million in Series B funding, a monumental leap for the company and a significant event in the field of robotics and AI. This impressive funding round was led by EQT Ventures, with notable participation from tech giant Samsung through Samsung NEXT, as well as contributions from Nistad Group and existing backers Sandwater and Skagerak Capital.

This investment marks a pivotal moment for 1X Technologies, founded a decade ago by Bernt Øivind Børnich. Initially named Halodi Robotics, the company embarked on a mission to create general-purpose robots capable of performing labor-intensive tasks. Over the years, 1X Technologies has made remarkable progress in developing its technology, which includes the world’s highest torque-to-weight drive servo motor, designed to replicate the soft, organic movements of muscles. This technological breakthrough has been pivotal in the company’s ability to start delivering its products to enterprise customers.

A significant turning point for 1X Technologies came in 2022 when it partnered with OpenAI. This collaboration propelled the company into a new realm of possibilities, integrating advanced AI models into its machines. This integration has enabled the robots to understand and execute tasks based on natural language inputs, a feature that serves as the ‘mind’ of these machines, allowing them to learn and adapt over time.

One of the company’s noteworthy products is Eve, a wheeled robot designed primarily for enterprise use. Eve has been deployed in various industrial settings, undertaking tasks such as moving equipment, opening doors, and fulfilling orders. What sets Eve apart is its ability to navigate both structured and unstructured spaces with ease, a skill it learned at 1X Technologies’ studio in Norway.

The company’s training methods are revolutionary. At their studio in Moss, Norway, androids are trained using embodied learning for practical tasks and industry-specific behaviors. This method is inspired by advancements in digital assistants and autonomous vehicles. It diverges from traditional coding and relies on data collection from VR Teleop, where operators guide androids through diverse real-world scenarios. This approach provides an intuitive understanding of task difficulty and feasibility, leading to the development of practical skills for navigating human-centric environments.

In addition to Eve, 1X Technologies is developing Neo, a bipedal humanoid robot aimed at the consumer market. Neo is designed to assist with everyday household tasks, such as cleaning, organizing, and running errands. Despite their autonomous capabilities, both Eve and Neo retain the option for remote control, ensuring safety and effectiveness in complex or unforeseen situations.

The business growth of 1X Technologies has been significant, though exact figures remain undisclosed. The company’s clientele includes notable names like Sunnass Hospital and Everon, with about 250 androids deployed for night guarding in commercial buildings. With the latest funding round, 1X Technologies’ total capital raised nearly amounts to $137 million. The company aims to use this capital to expand its support for enterprise customers and introduce Neo into the consumer market, as well as to scale its data collection and training strategy for embodied AI.

Ted Persson, a partner at EQT Ventures, expressed his belief in the transformative impact of androids joining the human workforce. He is convinced that 1X Technologies, with its NEO androids, will play a crucial role in pioneering the integration of technology and humanity.

The development of humanoid robots has been underway for some time, with recent advancements in AI, particularly in language models, enhancing their potential. Various organizations, including Hyundai Motor Group’s Boston Dynamics and Elon Musk’s Tesla, are experimenting with robots and humanoids. Tesla, for instance, is developing an AI-enabled general-purpose humanoid named Optimus.

The market for AI robots is poised for substantial growth. According to MarketsAndMarkets, this market is expected to grow from $6.9 billion in 2021 to $35.3 billion in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 39%. This growth reflects the increasing interest and investment in AI and robotics, and 1X Technologies is well-positioned to be at the forefront of this burgeoning field.

In conclusion, the recent funding of 1X Technologies signifies a major milestone in the world of robotics and artificial intelligence. The company’s innovative approach to developing humanoid robots, combined with its strategic partnership with OpenAI, places it in a unique position to lead the charge in this rapidly evolving industry. With its focus on both enterprise and consumer markets, 1X Technologies is not only advancing technology but also shaping the future of human-robot interaction. The success of this funding round is a testament to the potential of 1X Technologies and its contribution to the field, paving the way for a future where robots and humans work together in harmony.

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.