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Human Intelligence Robot Maker Raises $58.5M in Early Funds

Human and robot hands

(Pete Linforth, Pixabay.

2 Mar. 2022. A developer of robotics with human-like intelligence for general-purpose workplace applications is raising nearly $US 59 million in its first venture round. Sanctuary Cognitive Systems Corp. in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is a four year-old company creating general-purpose robotic systems for a range of industries to help solve labor shortages worldwide.

Sanctuary Cognitive Systems is developing robotic systems that it says are designed to perform a wide variety of human tasks in business. Most other robotics, says the company, are created to fulfill a specific set of tasks or activities. Sanctuary says its robotics use an intelligence that more resembles human functions, with a software framework covering several cognitive and sensory functions including memory, sight, sound, and touch.

When deployed, says the company, its human size and scale robotics can operate alongside humans, using artificial intelligence to observe and assess actions, and act on tasks. Sanctuary notes that its systems are operated and supervised by human workers, while the systems act on designated tasks and build their knowledge stores with algorithms for future work. The company says its systems are designed with the right combination of automated hardware and cognitive smarts to aid in performing a business’s work, and fill in for human workers when labor shortages occur.

Labor challenges outside the scope of most A.I. and robotics

“We are addressing a systemic problem across the global economy,” says Sanctuary co-founder and CEO Geordie Rose in a company statement. Rose adds, “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 A.I. and robotics technology.”

Sanctuary Cognitive Systems is raising $C 75.5 million ($US 58.5 million) in its first venture funding round. Taking part in the round are Bell Canada, Evok Innovations, Export Development Canada, Magna, SE Health, Verizon Ventures, and Workday Ventures. No lead financier for the round is identified.

Verizon Ventures in New York, the venture capital arm of Verizon Communications, is among the investors. “It’s not practical for most businesses,” says Verizon Ventures managing director Michelle McCarthy in a blog post, “to redesign factories to automate their entire operations or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a robotic arm that performs one simple function. Instead, implementing automation solutions that seamlessly plug into existing operations will be the realistic next step for most businesses adapting to the future of work.”

Another of Sanctuary’s first-round funders is Evok Innovations, also in Vancouver, a venture investor focusing on climate technologies and environmental outcomes. “Our investment in Sanctuary,” says Marty Reed, a partner at Evok Innovations in Sanctuary’s statement, “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.”

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