In the not-so-distant past, humanoid robots were characterized by their clumsiness and awkwardness. However, several startups are now claiming to have developed models that are on the verge of being deployed in warehouses and factories, signifying a significant leap forward in the field of robotics. Approximately eight years ago, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) organized a challenging competition that showcased robots struggling to perform human tasks with limited success. Videos of these robots fumbling and stumbling during the DARPA Robotics Challenge quickly went viral, capturing the world's attention.Today, the descendants of those early robots have become significantly more capable and graceful. Startups are actively developing humanoids that could find practical applications in just a few years, revolutionizing the automation landscape in warehouses and factories.Jerry Pratt, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, who led a team that secured second place in the DARPA challenge in 2015, now serves as the chief technology officer of Figure AI. This company aims to build a humanoid robot specifically designed for warehouse work. Recently, Figure AI announced securing a remarkable $70 million in investment funding.Pratt believes that if the DARPA challenge were held today, robots would be able to complete the tasks in approximately a quarter of the time it took his robot, with significantly fewer accidents. He credits the emergence of enabling technologies, such as advanced computer vision powered by machine learning, for allowing machines to navigate complex environments and perform tasks like climbing stairs and grasping objects. Furthermore, the development of power-dense batteries, propelled by the electric vehicle industry, has made it feasible to equip humanoid robots with sufficient energy to balance dynamically, mimicking human stability even when encountering slips or misjudging steps.Currently, Figure AI's robot is taking its initial steps in a simulated warehouse environment in Sunnyvale, California. Brett Adcock, CEO of Figure AI, envisions a future where humanoids can be produced at a cost comparable to manufacturing a car, provided there is a sufficient demand to scale up production.Figure AI is not the only company placing its bets on the maturation of humanoid robots. Other players include 1X, Apptronik, and even Tesla. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, showed interest in humanoid robots after attending the original DARPA Robotics Challenge in 2015. This indicates that some of the necessary technologies to create functional humanoid machines are finally reaching viability.Jonathan Hurst, a professor at Oregon State University and co-founder of Agility Robotics, also participated in the DARPA challenge, showcasing a walking robot he had built. Agility Robotics has been focused on developing legged robots but has taken a unique approach by prioritizing physics-based locomotion over imitating human limb mechanics. While their robots have a humanoid appearance, their legs are reminiscent of those found in ostriches, inspired by the bird's remarkable agility.