In a world where technology constantly evolves, another remarkable innovation has just emerged — Sanctuary AI, a pioneering tech startup, has unveiled a groundbreaking addition to the workforce. We are talking about a “general-purpose robot” that is capable of performing various workplace tasks alongside or independently of humans.

While robots have been working alongside humans for many years, they have typically been specialized for specific tasks — for instance, an assembly line robot at General Motors might repetitively move pieces of metal from one place to another; consequently, businesses had to purchase multiple robots, often at high costs, to automate different tasks.

But companies like Sanctuary AI are addressing this challenge by developing general-purpose robots that can handle a wide range of tasks. On May 16, the startup unveiled its sixth-generation robot named “Phoenix”, an AI-powered humanoid.

Geordie Rose, the co-founder, and CEO of Sanctuary AI, explains:

“We designed Phoenix to be the most sensor-rich and physically capable humanoid ever built, enabling our AI platform’s rapidly growing intelligence to perform the broadest set of work tasks possible.”

Talking about its key features, Phoenix stands at 5’7″ and weighs 155 pounds and it can lift objects weighing up to 55 pounds. With its human-like hands, which possess 20 degrees of freedom and haptic sensors, Phoenix can perform tasks requiring dexterity and precision, such as package labeling or fruit picking.

Sanctuary claims that Phoenix possesses human-like intelligence due to its proprietary AI control system called Carbon; this system serves as the “brain” of the robot and can be trained to complete new tasks through computer simulations — alternatively, Phoenix can learn through human demonstration, where a person guides the robot using a VR headset and a specialized rig to accomplish a new task.

Remote control capabilities

The VR setup used for demonstration purposes can also enable remote control, allowing individuals to work from home, reducing physical labor-related injuries, and expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities.

Sanctuary conducted a successful pilot test at a Mark’s retail store, where a human remotely guided their fifth-generation general-purpose robot through 110 tasks over a week, covering approximately 40% of the store’s required job functions.

Future prospects

The ultimate objective is to have a robot that can autonomously perform tasks without constant human supervision. The extent of Phoenix’s autonomy and the time required to train it for new tasks remain uncertain.

Sanctuary plans to deploy the general-purpose robot in other locations near its headquarters, providing labor as a service by the hour. The hourly pricing varies based on the complexity of the required tasks.

As Sanctuary continues to develop and deploy Phoenix, more insights will emerge regarding its capabilities and potential applications, bringing us closer to a future where versatile robots enhance productivity across various industries.

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