Accenture invests in AI-powered humanoid robotics


Monday, 08 April, 2024

Accenture invests in AI-powered humanoid robotics

Accenture has announced a strategic investment, through Accenture Ventures, in Sanctuary AI, a developer of humanoid general-purpose robots that are powered by AI and Sanctuary AI says can perform a wide variety of work tasks quickly, safely and effectively.

“AI-powered humanoid robots are essential to reinventing work and supporting human workers as labour 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 Phoenix, recently recognised 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, labelling and folding items, with robotic hands that rival human hand dexterity and fine manipulation. Phoenix is powered by the company’s AI control system, Carbon, which the company says mimics subsystems found in the human brain, such as memory, sight, sound and touch, and translates natural language into action in the real world.

“Robots with human-like intelligence will completely transform the workforce of the future,” said Geordie Rose, chief executive officer and co-founder of Sanctuary AI. “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 their clients.”

Accenture’s Technology Vision 2024 report found that 95% of executives surveyed agree that making technology more human will massively expand the opportunities of every industry. The report calls for taking a balanced, ‘human by design’ approach that ensures companies use technologies fairly and responsibly. Sanctuary AI is making this a reality by embedding Explainable AI in the Phoenix robot in order to feature reasoning, task and motion plans that can be defined and audited.

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. Project Spotlight offers extensive access to Accenture’s domain expertise and enterprise clients, helping startups harness human creativity and deliver on the promise of their technology.

Top image: Sanctuary AI's Phoenix robot. Credit: Sanctuary AI.

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