Sanctuary Cognitive Systems to Use Series A Funding Toward General Purpose Robots

Sanctuary says its mission is to create human-like robots to address global labor shortages and help explore outer space.

Sanctuary Cognitive Systems

Sanctuary is developing AI and humanoid robots.
Sanctuary Cognitive Systems has raised $58.5 million as it continues to develop general-purpose "Synths," humanoid robots and AI, to relieve labor shortages and help explore outer space.

Shortages of labor around the world for have renewed interest in human-like, general-purpose robots. Sanctuary Cognitive Systems Corp. yesterday said it had successfully closed a Series A funding of C$75.5 million ($58.5 million U.S.).

“With unfilled vacancies, workplace safety considerations, increasing employee turnover, worldwide aging populations, and declining workplace participation, one thing is clear: Many labor-related challenges are outside the scope of current specialized AI and robotics technology,” said Geordie Rose, co-founder and CEO of Sanctuary. “We are addressing a systemic problem across the global economy. ... With interest from customers representing a dozen different industry verticals, we are working hard to make work safer, more accessible, and ultimately more productive.”

Founded in 2018 by Rose, Suzanne Gildert, Olivia Norton, and Ajay Agrawal founded Sanctuary in 2018. The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company said that members of its team co-founded D-Wave, a pioneer in the quantum computing industry; Kindred, which applied reinforcement learning in a production robot; and the Creative Destruction Lab, which developed ways to commercialize science for humanity's benefit.

Sanctuary claimed that it is developing “the world's first human-like intelligence in general-purpose robots that will help us work more safely, efficiently, and sustainably.”

Sanctuary sets sights on humanoid robots

Many companies are developing special-purpose robots and artificial intelligence to address specific tasks, noted Sanctuary Cognitive Systems. By contrast, the company said it is drawing from fields including cognition, computer vision, machine learning, theoretical physics, and quantum computing for a more general-purpose approach to both robotics hardware and software.

Sanctuary is designing its robots to be humanoid in size and shape to operate in spaces designed for people. It added that it is cognitive architecture mimics the different subsystems in a person's brain. This approach allows the scope of the work to be broken down into manageable and achievable pieces, according to the company.

General-purpose robots could assist people with difficult or dangerous tasks, offer new opportunities to those who might be less capable of physical work, create jobs, and reduce the effects of worker shortages, said Sanctuary.

The company said its focus includes developing AI and robots to help human exploration and colonization of outer space. It plans to first train its robots alongsite people on Earth.

Sanctuary also announced that Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer, and Chris Hadfield, a former astronaut and commander of the International Space Station, have joined its advisory board.

Investors want general-purpose robots for different industries

Sanctuary said its strategic industry investors reflect potential applications for human-like AI in general-purpose robots across a wide range of industry verticals. Investors in the startup's “oversubscribed” Series A round included Bell, Evok Innovations, Export Development Canada, Magna, SE Health, Verizon Ventures, and Workday Ventures.

“Sanctuary's novel approach and progress set them apart, as they look to build transformative innovations of tomorrow with the potential to reshape the future of work,” stated Michelle McCarthy, managing director of Verizon Ventures.

Marty Reed, a partner at Evok Innovations, added: “Our investment in Sanctuary is in complete alignment with our mission at Evok Innovations to protect the environment and strengthen the economy. We believe that Sanctuary has the fastest, lowest-cost, and most commercially viable path to building human-like intelligence in machines.”

“Globally leading networks like Bell's pure-fiber broadband and Bell 5G enable emerging technologies like Sanctuary's to flourish,” said Mirko Bibic, president and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. “Bell is proud to help support the work Sanctuary is doing and the opportunities it will bring for Canadian industry in the years to come.”

Sanctuary 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. And in the not-too-distant future, help us explore, settle, and prosper in outer space.

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Sanctuary Cognitive Systems

Sanctuary is developing AI and humanoid robots.

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