Mobileye founder gives sneak peek into human-like AI robot doing household chores

Israeli startup Mentee Robotics debuts prototype of general-purpose robot that can move everywhere, clean dishes, do the laundry, work in warehouses… and learns on the fly

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Israeli startup Mentee Robotics unveils its prototype human-like robot that it says will be able to run household chores and tasks in warehouses. (Courtesy)

An early prototype of Mobileye founder Amnon Shashua’s human-like robot that walks around without a neck and a head, taking verbal commands to do your household chores, was given a first show after two years in the making.

The video features a robot powered by artificial intelligence capabilities that interacts by responding to human voice commands. It has two legs, arms and hands that can perform delicate tasks from holding and moving a single plate, picking up fruit and placing it into a container, to carrying and walking packs of water bottles weighing up to 25 kilograms (55 pounds) in any direction from one place to another.

Mentee Robotics, the startup behind the venture has come out of stealth mode after two years with the ambitious endeavor to create a 1.76-meter (5 feet, 9 inches) tall robot with human-like dexterity and perception, that can be personalized and adjusted to be a domestic goddess that obeys human commands to handle laundry, set up and cleanup a table, and can learn new tasks on the fly through visual imitation.

Weighing 70 kilograms (154 pounds), the startup says the robot can turn in place, balance and squat, and is also designed to operate tasks in industrial settings such as warehouses and factories for up to 5 hours before requiring a recharge.

For now, Mentee Robotics presented the technology, but still has a long way to go to showcase its commercial viability. The startup is working on a final version that integrates robotics, sensing and AI capabilities. A production-ready prototype is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2025, it said.

“We are on the cusp of a convergence of computer vision, natural language understanding, strong and detailed simulators, and methodologies for transferring simulations to the real world,” said Shashua. “We see this convergence as the starting point for designing the future general-purpose robot that can move everywhere with the brains to perform household tasks and learn completely new tasks it was not previously trained for through imitation.”

Mentee Robotics was founded in 2022 by its chairman Shashua, who is also the founder of the AI firm, AI21 Labs; Prof. Lior Wolf, the CEO, and a former Facebook AI Research director; and Prof. Shai Shalev-Shwartz, a computer scientist and machine learning researcher. To date, the startup has raised $17 million in funds from Ahren Innovation Capital and other investors.

The vision of robots performing chores and tasks that can compete with humans has been around for many years. With the fast-moving technological advancements of AI models, Mentee Robotics is now joining an array of robotic companies that are striving to develop human-like general purpose robots, also known as humanoids, to take on various physical tasks in the home or for deployment in warehouses and factories.

Among recent robotic developers are Elon Musk’s Tesla; Sunnyvale, California-based Figure AI, backed by ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and Microsoft; Boston Dynamics; and Sanctuary AI.

According to Shashua, the humanoid robot Mentee is developing can perform a complete cycle of actions with the help of so-called large language models (LLMs) used to understand, respond, and interpret natural language commands and “think through” the required steps to complete a task, including navigation, locomotion, scene understanding, object detection and localization.

Shashua, co-founder of Jerusalem-based maker of autonomous vehicles Mobileye (an Intel company), is also the co-founder of Israeli startup AI21 Labs, a natural language processing (NLP) company, which has the vision to bring generative AI to the masses and competes against OpenAI.

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