Microsoft partners with Sanctuary AI to develop humanoid robots

Microsoft has partnered with the robotics startup Sanctuary AI to develop general-purpose robots after its leading investment into a rival company, Figure.

The two companies will collaborate on the development of AI models for humanoid robots, including Sanctuary AI’s recently unveiled Phoenix robot.

The Vancouver-based startup hopes working together with Microsoft will bring it closer to its stated mission of creating “the world’s first human-like intelligence in general purpose robots.”

Sanctuary AI said it would leverage Microsoft’s Azure cloud resources in its work towards building large behaviour models, or LBMs, that “ground AI in the physical world” by enabling it to understand real world experiences and learn from them.

“Creating systems that think like, and understand us, is one of the biggest civilization-level technical problems and opportunities that we will ever face,” said Geordie Rose, chief executive and founder of Sanctuary AI.

“A challenge like this requires the best global minds to work together,” Rose said, adding that this would help unlock the “next generation” of AI models, which will power general purpose robots.

Microsoft said the cooperation in AI research with Sanctuary AI would focus on areas “like reasoning, planning, and human-agent collaboration.”

Earlier this year, Microsoft also spearheaded the $675 million investment into Californian robotics startup Figure, with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and chipmaker Nvidia among other backers.

Figure has recently demonstrated its humanoid robot 01 powered by OpenAI, another investor in the startup that’s in turn backed by Microsoft. The robot company has also partnered with the German automaker BMW to deploy its humanoid robots in one of its manufacturing plants.

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