The Humanoid Robot NASA Is Helping Build

NASA hopes Apptronik's Apollo will help lead to a humanoid robot that can go to space.

Andy Altman Director of Video Production
Andy Altman is a producer covering all things science and tech. He led production on CNET's award-winning limited documentary series Hacking the Apocalypse. He also created and co-hosts our video series What the Future.
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  • Webby Award Honoree 2023 - Science & Education, Gold Telly 2022 - Science and Technology, Gold Telly 2022 - Science and Technology Series, Gold Telly 2021 - Documentary Series, Silver Telly 2021 - Directing
Andy Altman

We've seen impressive developments in humanoid robots over the last few years. Elon Musk and Tesla introduced the Optimus robot last year, and every few months Boston Dynamics teaches its Atlas robot a few new tricks. Next month at South by Southwest, a Texas-based startup will reveal to a small group its take on a general-purpose robot.

Apptronik calls its newest robot Apollo, in part because it partnered with NASA on commercializing the robot. Though there aren't plans to send Apollo to space, the space agency wants to encourage the development of humanoid robots that could one day lead to a robotic space-explorer. We haven't seen any official images of Apollo, but Apptronik has released several videos over the past few weeks showing off some of its prototype robots that ultimately helped lead to Apollo's design.


NASA hopes to develop humanoid robots that could one day help on missions to the moon and Mars.


"Apollo is the robot that we've always wanted to build," CEO Jeff Cardenas told CNET. "We've designed the whole world for the human form. Having a robot that's the same footprint as a human and can use all the same tools that we use and fit in the same places, is incredibly useful." Watch the video above to hear more from Cardenas and learn more about Apollo.


Apptronik's QDH (Quick Development Humanoid) robot.


Cardenas says Apptronik will reveal Apollo to the public and begin taking preorders later this year. He expects the first deliveries in 2024.