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European automakers to trial Sanctuary AI’s humanoid robots

Sanctuary AI has announced it will deliver its humanoid robots to Magna manufacturing facilities. Headquartered in Austria, Magna manufactures and assembles vehicles for many of Europe’s top automakers, including Mercedes, Jaguar and BMW. As is the nature of these deals, the parties did not disclose how many Sanctuary AI bots would be deployed.

This follows similar deals announced by Figure and Apptronik, which are trialling their own humanoid systems with BMW and Mercedes respectively. Agility also announced a deal with Ford at CES in January 2020, though that agreement found the US automaker exploring the use of Digit equipment for last-mile deliveries. Agility has since put that feature on the back burner and focused on warehouse deployments through partners like Amazon.

Magna invested in Sanctuary AI back in 2021, when Elon Musk announced plans to build a humanoid robot to work in Tesla factories. The company later dubbed the system “Optimus.” Vancouver-based Sanctuary launched its own system, Phoenix, last May. The system stands 5 feet, 7 inches tall (a pretty standard height for these machines) and weighs 155 pounds.

Phoenix isn’t Sanctuary’s first humanoid robot (an early model has been deployed at a Canadian retailer), but it is the first to walk on legs – although most of the available videos only highlight the system’s torso. The company is also working on building ambidextrous hands—an important addition if the system is expected to expand its capabilities beyond mobile handbags.

Sanctuary calls the pilot project a “multidisciplinary assessment leveraging Magna’s automotive portfolio, engineering and manufacturing capabilities to improve robot cost and scalability; and Magna’s strategic equity investment.”

As always, these agreements should be considered pilot agreements. They’re not exactly validation of form and systems – that will come later if Magna gets what it’s looking for with this deal. It comes down to three big letters: ROI.

The company did not disclose details such as the number of robots, the duration of the pilot, or even the specific factories where the robots will be deployed.

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