Mercedes-Benz Group has signed a contract with robotics supplier Apptronik to look into applications for humanoid robots in the carmaker’s manufacturing facilities. The Apollo robots that Apptronik developed and unvieled last year are designed to operate in warehouses and manufacturing plants.


The Apollo robots are equipped with force control architecture, which means they are safe to operate alongside workers and undertake physically demanding jobs

Mercedes-Benz is looking at potential use cases for the Apollo humanoid robots in logistics to bring parts to the production line for workers to assemble and to carry out inspection of components. The robots will also be used to deliver the totes of kitted parts later in the manufacturing process, according to the carmaker.

To see what Apptronik’s robot could do to support production, Mercedes-Benz worked with the Apptronik team directly on site at its Kecskemét plant in Hungary.

“We are exploring new possibilities with the use of robotics to support our skilled workforce in manufacturing,” said Jörg Burzer, head of production, quality and supply chain management at Mercedes-Benz Group. ”This is a new frontier and we want to understand the potential both for robotics and automotive manufacturing to fill labour gaps in areas such as low skill, repetitive and physically demanding work and to free up our highly skilled team members on the line to build the world’s most desirable cars.” 

Apptronik is a spin-off from the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas (Austin) and its work led to the development of Apollo, reputed to be one of the world’s most advanced humanoid robots. The Apollo robots are around 1.7 metres tall and weigh 72.5kg with the ability to lift around 25kg. Apptronik said they are built to operate in industrial spaces alongside people which means companies are able to avoid full-scale facility redesigns that are built around robots rather than people. The robots are equipped with “force control architecture”, which means they are safe to work alongside workers and undertake physically demanding jobs in a similar way to collaborative robots (cobots). 

Apollo robot_Hungary

Mercedes-Benz tested the applications of Apollo at its plant in Kecskemét, Hungary

“When we set out to build Apollo, an agreement like the one we’re announcing today with Mercedes-Benz was a dream scenario,” said Jeff Cardenas, co-founder and CEO of Apollo. “Mercedes plans to use robotics and Apollo for automating some low skill, physically challenging, manual labour – a model use case which we’ll see other organizations replicate in the months and years to come.” 

Apptronik said that Apollo’s computing power makes it possible for leading AI companies to solve use cases outside the ones that Apptronik will initially solve, similar to the iPhone concept: “world-class,user-friendly hardware that comes with some pre-built applications and can add applications developed by third parties”.

Mercedes-Benz told Automotive Logistics that advances in robotics and AI open up new opportunities for the carmaker. ”The Mercedes-Benz manufacturing USP is intelligence – it helps to manage complexity and increases flexibility,” said a spokesperson for the carmaker. ”This is why Mercedes-Benz is increasing the use of AI and advanced robotics. Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer in advanced manufacturing.”


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Learn more about how manufacturers and logistics providers are transforming logistics management, and increasing supply chain resiliency through digitalisation, automation and more sustainable practices at this week’s Automotive Logistics and Supply Chain Europe