Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation announced today it has been awarded an expanded contract (FA8750-22-C-1005) from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for continued development of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven methods and techniques that autonomously control a Heterogeneous Sensing Network (HSN).

As part of the AFRL contract, Sarcos is developing a collaborative sensing solution that enables its Department of Defense (DoD) partners to quickly, accurately, and safely identify, track, and classify time-critical objects using autonomous, heterogeneous sensor networks and AI to improve the operations, safety, data collection, and communication of autonomous platforms, such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

“Sarcos’ unique approach to reinforced learning and AI enables autonomous systems to work together more effectively,” said Dr. Peter Zulch, AFRL. “Sarcos utilizes advanced AI-driven methods and techniques to improve the operations, safety, data collection, and communication of our autonomous platforms.”

The methods developed will harness the power of a myriad of sensor data to create more robust data sets that enable accurate autonomous operations in dynamic and unstructured environments, such as subsea operations and solar panel installations over diverse terrain, and the application for air force systems. The approach models how humans detect and adapt to their surroundings – using the multiple senses of sight, sound, and feel – to make real-time decisions and adjustments to operate effectively in real-world environments.

“This continued work is critical to advancing our AI platform to benefit customers across industries,” said Dr. Denis Garagic, chief technology officer, Sarcos. “The ability to harness and unify the power of sensors to adapt to dynamic inputs in unstructured environments allows for increased accuracy and continued operations despite changing conditions.”

Software as a service (SaaS) and AI applications for robotics systems are emerging as expected growth drivers for Sarcos. As a result of the demand for autonomous solutions and building on the work derived from multiple, multi-million dollar, multi-year, AI-focused DoD contracts, Sarcos is also announcing the formation of a new Advanced Technologies division to be led by Dr. Garagić, Sarcos’ chief technology officer.

The Advanced Technologies division will work to progress the development and productization of Sarcos' AI and machine learning (ML) software platform for generalizable autonomy. The AI and ML software platform will focus on enabling robots to learn from experience using a success-based learning approach. The AI and ML platform will be designed to be usable across a variety of autonomous systems, including factory robots and drones. Additionally, the division will continue to pioneer new algorithms, models, and techniques to unlock new possibilities in the field of robotics, with a focus on initiatives aimed at pushing the boundaries of AI capabilities for robotics operating in dynamic, unstructured environments which pose unique challenges due to their complex and unpredictable nature.

“Dynamic and unstructured environments present an exciting opportunity for AI innovation,” said Laura Peterson, interim president and CEO, Sarcos. “With Dr. Garagic’s expertise and leadership, our Advanced Technology division is well positioned to develop cutting-edge AI solutions that can excel in unstructured environments, enabling industries to achieve unprecedented efficiency and effectiveness.”

The newly formed division will also collaborate with industry partners, leveraging their domain knowledge and expertise to address market-specific challenges. Sarcos believes this market-led approach will accelerate the adoption of the technology and drive real-world applications fostering growth and innovation within these industries and beyond.

“I am honored to lead this newly formed division at Sarcos alongside some of the brightest minds in AI and ML,” said Dr. Garagic. “I look forward to continued collaboration with my colleagues, peers, industry partners, and others to solve some of the biggest AI challenges and provide solutions that will change the future of work. Together we will push the boundaries of AI in dynamic and challenging unstructured environments and revolutionize the way work gets done.”

Sarcos was founded in 1983 as Sarcos Research by University of Utah engineering professor, Stephen C. Jacobson. It became one of the University of Utah’s first spinout companies. Jacobson then founded the UofU’s Center for Engineering Design, a pioneer in biomechanics. It developed the world’s first electronically actuated prosthetic arm and hand that has since been used by the US military for amputees. Sarcos robotic systems operate in challenging, unstructured, industrial environments and include teleoperated robotic systems, a powered robotic exoskeleton, and software solutions that enable task autonomy. The company's teleoperated robotic arms and humanoid robots have been used in wide ranging applications, including theme parks and hotels. Most notably, the company supplied 225 independent six-axis robots that make up the technology platform for the famous Bellagio Hotel fountains in Las Vegas.

In September 2020, the Salt Lake City-based company raised a $40 million Series C investment to help it further develop its Guardian XO line of industry exoskeletons, a financial event covered by TechBuzz.

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