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In focus

Is this the ‘ChatGPT moment’ for robots – and will they soon be walking among us?

When a robot placed a coffee capsule into a machine and made itself a cup without any pre-programming, it heralded a new era of the automated human. So, asks Anthony Cuthbertson, what does this mean for humanity as these humanoids increasingly live and work alongside us?

Sunday 14 January 2024 13:10 GMT
US start-up Figure says it will be the first to make AI-enabled robots mainstream
US start-up Figure says it will be the first to make AI-enabled robots mainstream (Figure)

On 5 January, a robot placed a capsule into a coffee machine, closed the lid, and pressed a button. It took less than 30 seconds, but, according to its creators, it was a historic moment, heralding a new era of machines living and working alongside us.

Made by the US start-up Figure, the robot, which stands 5ft 6in tall and has roughly the same proportions as a human, had spent 10 hours watching through its camera eyes as people performed the same task. This was the only training it received, and it marked the first time that a robot had made a cup of coffee without any pre-programming.

Figure’s co-founder and chief executive, Brett Adcock, described it as a “ChatGPT moment”, referring to the viral AI chatbot that brought generative artificial intelligence into the mainstream.

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