Most of the tech industry is focused on using AI to replace human tasks, but one Utah-based robot maker is taking a different approach by putting human operators at the forefront of its products.
"To err may be human, but it's really, really difficult to get a robot to be able to do all the kinds of analytics and decision-making that humans can do," said Sarcos CEO Ben Wolff. "The processor that we all have ... is absolutely the best on the planet. So while there will always be error, the fact is that there will be even more error if we were solely relying on AI."
Sarcos got its start in the early 1980s as a prosthetic maker and translated that knowledge to develop full-body exoskeletons. Beginning in 2007, Sarcos acted as the robotics division for defense contractor Ratheyon but spun off to become its own independent company again in 2014.
"The type of robots that we're focused on are robots that are going to be doing dangerous and difficult tasks or operating in really dangerous environments," Wolff said. "We believe that the best way to go about performing those tasks is to leverage the human mind to control the machine."
CNBC got to test one of the products that emerged from this philosophy. The Guardian GT is a mammoth, dual-armed robot that mimics the moments of a human operator. As I moved my arm, the robot moved with me. I felt what it felt when attempting to thread a plastic tube onto a metal pipe, thanks to force feedback.
The GT can be remotely operated, meaning that it can be used in dangerous areas with radiation or poisonous gases, for instance.
Another Sarcos robot, the Guardian S, can best be described as a snake-like bot used for inspections and search and rescue operations and costs $60,000 and up. Sarcos is also working on a full-body-powered exoskeleton called the Guardian XO, which the company envisions will be used by soldiers and industrial workers to carry heavy loads.
Sarcos is taking preorders for the Guardian S and custom orders for the Guardian GT. The Guardian XO will be released in 2019.