Accenture Invests in Humanoid General-purpose Robots Developer Sanctuary AI

Accenture has made a strategic investment through Accenture Ventures in Sanctuary AI, a company specializing in the development of AI-powered humanoid robots. These robots, like the PhoenixTM model, are designed to perform a wide variety of tasks quickly, safely, and effectively, and are intended to work alongside humans in various industries, including post and parcel, manufacturing, retail, and logistics warehousing operations.

Sanctuary AI's robots are notable for their human-like dexterity and ability to perform complex tasks with precision. The AI control system, CarbonTM, which powers these robots, is designed to mimic human brain subsystems, enabling the robots to react to their environment and perform new tasks efficiently.

This investment aligns with Accenture's broader strategy to innovate and provide solutions that integrate advanced technology with human creativity, ensuring a balanced and responsible approach to technology deployment. Sanctuary AI's inclusion in Accenture Ventures’ Project Spotlight is expected to connect emerging technology startups with Accenture’s global client base, fostering innovation and addressing strategic gaps.

"AI-powered humanoid robots are essential to reinventing work and supporting human workers as labor shortage is becoming an issue in many countries and industries,” said Joe Lui, Accenture’s global advanced automation and robotics lead. “Sanctuary AI’s advanced AI platform trains robots to react to their environment and perform new tasks with precision in a very short time. We see huge potential for their robots in post and parcel, manufacturing, retail and logistics warehousing operations, where they could complement and collaborate with human workers and automate tasks that traditional robotics can’t.

Sanctuary AI’s general-purpose robot PhoenixTM, recently recognized as one of TIME magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2023,” can perform a multitude of work tasks. For instance, at a Mark’s retail store in Langley, BC, Canada, Phoenix has performed more than 100 tasks, including choosing and packing merchandise, and correctly cleaning, tagging, labeling and folding items, with robotic hands that rival human hand dexterity and fine manipulation. Phoenix is powered by the company’s AI control system, CarbonTM, which mimics subsystems found in the human brain, such as memory, sight, sound and touch, and translates natural language into action in the real world.

Accenture has previously invested in other robotics areas, for example, through Accenture Alpha Automation, a recently formed joint venture with Japanese robotics leader Mujin, and acquisitions of Eclipse Automation in Canada and Pollux in Brazil. Sanctuary AI is the latest company to join Accenture Ventures’ Project Spotlight, an engagement and investment program that connects emerging technology startups with Accenture’s Global 2000 client base in order to fill strategic innovation gaps.

Geordie Rose, chief executive officer and co-founder of Sanctuary AI, said, “Robots with human-like intelligence will completely transform the workforce of the future. By combining Accenture’s expertise in disruptive technology with Sanctuary AI’s industry-leading robotics, we can help some of the biggest companies in the world manage this change and provide the best solutions for its clients.”

Founded in 2018, Sanctuary AI is based in Vancouver, Canada and is on a mission to create the world's first human-like intelligence in general purpose robots that will help us work more safely, efficiently, and sustainably, helping to address the labor challenges facing many organizations today. Sanctuary AI's growing list of customers and investors represents a wide variety of industries across Canada, the US, and other countries around the world.

Members of the Sanctuary team have earlier founded other notable technology ventures, such as D-Wave (a pioneer in the quantum computing industry), Kindred (first use of reinforcement learning in a production robot), and the Creative Destruction Lab (pioneered a revolutionary method for the commercialization of science for the betterment of humankind). With experience at startups and technology leaders such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Softbank Robotics, the team has experience launching market-defining innovations rooted in previously unsolved and deep scientific problems.

Besides Accenture, significant investments have been made by tech giants and venture capital firms in humanoid robotics. Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, and OpenAl have invested in a humanoid robot startup, Figure AI, which has drawn a $675 million investment, to date.

Microsoft, Intel, and LG Innotek are also among the investors in various humanoid robotics ventures, recognizing the potential of these technologies in various industries.


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