OpenAI is restarting its robotics research group

OpenAI robotics research is resuming, applying generative AI to tasks such as manipulation. | Credit: OpenAI

OpenAI LLC, which is best known for ChatGPT, is restarting its robotics research group. The San Francisco-based company has been a pioneer in generative artificial intelligence and is returning to robotics after a three-year break.

This comes as no surprise, since The Robot Report has reported on several robotics companies working with ChatGPT and large language models (LLMs) over the past year.

The reboot comes after the company shut down its robotics group in July 2021. That shutdown was prior to all of the interest in generative AI after OpenAI released ChatGPT to the world.

When the company shut down its original robotics research group, co-founder Wojciech Zaremba said: “I actually believe quite strongly in the approach that the robotics [team] took in that direction, but from the perspective of AGI [artificial general intelligence], I think that there was actually some components missing. So when we created the robotics [team], we thought that we could go very far with self-generated data and reinforcement learning.”

OpenAI is a 2024 RBR50 award honoree for the innovation of LLMs along with the application programming interfaces (APIs) that have enabled robotics developers to demonstrate interaction between physical robots and the generative AI. In March 2023, OpenAI released the APIs that have facilitated this interaction for the robotics industry.

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OpenAI is hiring a robotics engineer

As first reported in Fortune this week, OpenAI is again hiring again for its robotics team, with an open position for a research robotics engineer. It is looking for someone capable of “training multimodal robotics models to unlock new capabilities for our partners’ robots,  research and develop improvements to our core models, including exploring new model architectures, collecting robotics data, and evaluations.”

“We’re looking for people who have a strong research background, in addition to experience shipping AI applications,” said the company.

OpenAI has also participated as an investor in humanoid developer Figure AI’s Series B fundraising earlier this year. The Figure AI investment indicated that robotics is clearly on the radar for OpenAI.

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