The Next Big Theme: March 2024

New generation robots go for a walk, EV sales stay strong, and generative AI touches new mediums. Join us in this month’s “Next Big Theme” as we explore recent news and developments in robotics, electric vehicles, AI and more.

Robotics & Artificial Intelligence

New Investments Set to Put Humanoids on the Fast Track

Robotics startup Figure AI has raised $675 million at a $2.6 billion valuation from notable entities including Nvidia, Microsoft, OpenAI, Bezos Expeditions and Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund.1 As part of the deal, Figure AI will partner with OpenAI to develop next generation AI models for humanoid robots, and it will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services for AI infrastructure, training, and storage.2 Founded in 2022, Figure AI’s robot, Figure 01, uses two legs and five-fingered hands to move and manipulate objects with precision.3 Tesla showcased improvements to its Optimus humanoid robot, which now walks at a record speed of 1.34 mph, a 30% increase from previous demonstrations. Eventually, Optimus is expected to reach speeds up to 5 mph.4 Thanks to recent technological advancements and decreasing production costs, the Global X team estimates that by 2035, over 100 million humanoid robots will be operational across a variety of environments, including factories, distribution centres, offices, elderly homes, households, and more.5

Explore robotics & artificial intelligence with ROBO.

Electric Vehicles

Global EV Sales and Production Remain Resilient

Despite some headwinds across the EV value chain in 2023, global EV sales (including battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid) totalled 1.1 million units in January 2024, a 69% year-over-year (YoY) increase and a new monthly global record.6 Sales in China nearly doubled, with 668,000 new EVs registered, or roughly 32% of all new car registrations.7 Sales increased 41% in North America and 29% in Europe.8 In the second half of 2023, the United States added nearly 1,100 public fast-charging EV stations.9 With the 16% YoY increase, the country now has one fast-charging EV station for every 16 gas stations.10 Toyota announced plans for another $1.3 billion investment in its Kentucky factory for EV production, starting with an electric SUV. General Motors will add four models to its South Korea lineup in 2024, including two EVs, the Chevrolet Equinox EV and Cadillac LYRIQ.11 Chinese automaker BYD also recently unveiled U9, a new electric supercar that can hit speeds of 192 mph, comparable to high-end models produced by industry heavyweights like Ferrari.12

Explore EVs and battery technology with ACDC.

Artificial Intelligence & Technology

Generative AI Achieves Breakthroughs in Audio and Video Modalities

OpenAI launched a new video-generation model dubbed Sora that can create realistic and imaginative scenes from text instructions. The text-to-video model allows users to generate up to one-minute-long photorealistic videos from written prompts.13 The model can also generate a video based on a still image and fill in missing frames on an existing video or extend it.14 Adobe unveiled Project Music GenAI Control, a versatile platform capable of creating audio from textual descriptions or a melody reference.15 Users can fine-tune key elements like tempo, intensity, patterns, and overall structure, all within their workflow. Users can also extend tracks to any length, enabling remixes or endless, seamless loops.16 Updates about OpenAI’s existing models include financial services firm Klarna’s AI chatbot assistant, handling 2.3 million conversations in its first month, the equivalent of 700 full-time agents.17

Explore global technology with TECH.


Global Hydrogen Industry Is Ready to Scale Up

The overwhelming response to the European Commission’s inaugural European Hydrogen Bank underscores the interest in renewable hydrogen production. The subsidy auction garnered 132 bids from 17 European Union countries, totalling 8.5-gigawatt (GW) of potential electrolyser capacity.18 Selected projects, which are expected to receive notification by April or May, will be held to a five-year deadline to commence production. The number of bids far exceeded the auctions €800 million budget, meaning only a fraction of the projects can procure subsidies this round.19 If fully realised, the bids could generate up to 8.8 million tons of renewable hydrogen, achieving nearly 10% of the EU’s 2030 goal.20 Major conglomerates Caterpillar, Microsoft, and Ballard Power Systems are collaborating to explore the use of hydrogen fuel cells for data centre backup power. Their project, a 1.5-megawatt (MW) hydrogen fuel cell at Microsoft’s data centre in Wyoming, proved its efficacy in a 48-hour backup power trial, marking a significant step towards sustainable energy solutions.21

Explore hydrogen with HGEN.


Ransomware Attacks Intensify, Global Defences Fortify

Hackers stole a record $1 billion through ransomware attacks in 2023 alone and the threats continue into 2024.22 Good news is that in one of the largest cybercrime operations to date, a global alliance of law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Justice Department and the U.K. National Crime Agency’s Cyber Division, struck a significant blow against the notorious Lockbit ransomware, a tool frequently used by cybercriminals to target critical institutions, such as hospitals and schools. By dismantling Lockbit’s infrastructure, law enforcement effectively shut down its operations and replaced its dark web platform with a repository of informative resources and victim support.23 That’s welcome news for healthcare, in particular. Change Healthcare, a unit of UnitedHealthcare responsible for processing 15 billion health-related transactions annually, recently revealed that ransomware hackers disrupted its operations.24 Doctors and hospitals have been unable to bill for services, and patients have faced difficulties in accessing prescriptions. Given the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks like these, worldwide spending on cybersecurity and risk management is projected to increase 14.35% YoY to $215 billion in 2024.25

Explore cybersecurity with BUGG.

Related Funds

ROBO: The Global X ROBO Global Robotics & Automation ETF (ASX: ROBO) invests in robotics and artificial intelligence companies, including those involved with industrial robotics and automation, non-industrial robots, and autonomous vehicles.

ACDC: The Global X Battery Tech & Lithium ETF (ASX: ACDC) invests in global companies developing electro-chemical storage technology and electric vehicles as well as mining companies producing battery-grade lithium.

TECH: The Global X Morningstar Global Technology ETF (ASX: TECH) invests in companies whose principal business is in offering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and/or cloud and edge computing infrastructure and hardware.

HGEN: The Global X Hydrogen ETF (ASX: HGEN) invests in companies involved in hydrogen production, the integration of hydrogen into energy systems, the development or manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cells, electrolysers, and other technologies related to the use of hydrogen as an energy source.

BUGG: The Global X Cybersecurity ETF (ASX: BUGG) invests in cybersecurity companies whose principal business is in the development and management of security protocols preventing intrusion and attacks on systems, networks, applications, computers, and mobile devices.


Forecasts are not guaranteed and undue reliance should not be placed on them. This information is based on views held by Global X as at 27/03/2024. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Diversification does not ensure a profit nor guarantee against a loss.

Brokerage commissions will reduce returns.

This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. This information is not intended to be individual or personalised investment or tax advice and should not be used for trading purposes. Please consult a financial advisor or tax professional for more information regarding your investment and/or tax situation.