Sarcos touts field demos of Guardian XT robot

Sarcos Robotics announced Thursday that it completed three successful field demonstrations of real-world industrial use cases for its Guardian XT mobile robotic system, the upper-body portion of the company’s Guardian XO industrial exoskeleton, which Sarcos is aiming to make commercially available by the end of next year.

These field demonstrations were conducted both in the Pacific Northwest and in Southern regions of the U.S. In one demonstration Sarcos worked with an electric utility construction services company to successfully conduct at-height tree trimming operations around active power lines. The demonstration showed how the Guardian XT could be used to improve work safety and potentially reduce occurrences of powerline-related fatalities and injuries, the company said in a press release. 

Another successful field demonstration involved a multi-national, sustainable materials science company. The Guardian XT in this case was used to conduct “nondestructive testing and inspections of at-height, in-process pipes at a chemical plant with the goal of improving inspection efficiency while reducing potentially life-altering injuries and events associated with at-height work,” Sarcos stated.

In the third field demonstration, a multi-national oil and gas industry company used the robotic system in field construction activities.

Sarcos Chairman and CEO Ben Wolff told Fierce Electronics, “Field demonstrations are very important as far as getting things into customers’ hands. This was our first big proof point for the Guardian XT.”

Wolff described the field demonstrations as “alpha trials” of its system that gave the company confidence to move ahead with the design and production of Guardian XT systems that can be deployed in future beta trials. He said the company remains on course for commercial availability by the end of 2022, at which point it will operate on a “robots-as-a-service model,” under which it would produce many more Guardian XT systems and lease them to customers for their individual use cases in industries such as aerospace, automotive, aviation, construction, defense, industrial manufacturing, maritime, and oil and gas.

Sarcos also is advancing its SenSuit wearable robot controller, which was announced and demonstrated earlier this year, and can be worn by human workers to allow them to remotely teleoperate the Guardian XT. robotic system, which then mimics the SenSuit wearer’s actions.

Thursday's news from Sarcos came one week after Tesla announced it is developing a full-scale humanoid robot with self-navigating capabilities that are used in Tesla vehicles, and that could be deployed for repetitive tasks. Wolff said Sarcos is instead focusing on making robots for tasks that not repetitive, and that require precise execution.

Sarcos is getting closer to becoming a publicly-listed company through a merger transaction with Rotor Acquisition Corp., a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition (SPAC) company. The transaction is expected to close in the current quarter. “When the SPAC market heated up last year we got approached, and the deal will give us the capital we need to hit our expansion targets,” Wolff said. “By 2026 we have a goal of having a fleet of more than 40,000 robots.”

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