Fortune November 5, 2023
Matt O'Brien, The Associated Press

Building a robot that’s both human-like and useful is a decades-old engineering dream inspired by popular science fiction.

While the latest artificial intelligence craze has sparked another wave of investments in the quest to build a humanoid, most of the current prototypes are clumsy and impractical, looking better in staged performances than in real life. That hasn’t stopped a handful of startups from keeping at it.

“The intention is not to start from the beginning and say, ‘Hey, we’re trying to make a robot look like a person,’” said Jonathan Hurst, co-founder and chief robot officer at Agility Robotics. “We’re trying to make robots that can operate in human spaces.”

Do we even need humanoids? Hurst makes a point of...

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