Humanoid robots are here, but they’re a little awkward. Do we really need them?

Agility Robotics’ robot Digit performs gestures at the company’s office in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. Agility co-founder Jonathan Hurst said, “We’re trying to make robots that can operate in human spaces.” Credit: AP Photo/Matt Freed

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 …

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