Agility Robotics Expands Amazon Relationship With Digit Testing
Humanoid robot to assist Amazon warehouse workers with repetitive tote tasks.
Agility Robotics' Digit in an Amazon facility.
Agility Robotics said tests of its Digit mobile manipulator at Amazon's R&D center will initially move totes and collaborate with people.
Robotics 24/7 Staff
· October 25, 2023
A week after Amazon.com Inc. provided a peek at the robots it is currently testing, Agility Robotics Inc. confirmed that Amazon's research and development center near Seattle will begin testing its Digit bipedal robot.
“Digit’s size and shape are well-suited for buildings that are designed for humans, and we believe that there is a big opportunity to scale a mobile manipulator solution,” explained Emily Vetterick, director of engineering at Amazon. “Collaborative robotics solutions like Digit support workplace safety and help Amazon deliver to customers faster, while creating new opportunities and career paths for our employees.”
Agility Robotics noted that the testing reflects a broadening of its relationship with the e-commerce giant, since it is already part of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund.
Agility designs digit for human spaces
Corvallis, Ore.-based Agility Robotics claimed that Digit is “the first multi-purpose, human-centric robot that is made for work.” Its stated mission is to build robots that augment and safely collaborate with the human workforce.
“Digit can move, grasp, and handle items in spaces and corners of a warehouse in novel ways,” said the company. “Its size and shape are well-suited for buildings that are designed for humans.”
Agility added that customers in the Agility Partner Program can expect delivery of the first Digits in 2024, with general market availability in 2025.
In addition, Agility recently announced that it is opening RoboFab, a 70,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Salem, Ore. The company said it expects to be able to produce hundreds of robots in the first year and eventually scale to more than 10,000 robots per year.
Digit also will work in the new factory in a similar capacity to Agility’s customer sites—moving, loading, and unloading totes.
Amazon to use robot for tote recycling
Amazon said it will initially use Digit to help employees with tote recycling, a highly repetitive process of picking up and moving empty totes once inventory has been completely picked out of them.
“Amazon is a company that is committed to making the work experience of their employees safer, easier, and less repetitive,” asserted Damion Shelton, co-founder and CEO of Agility Robotics.
“When we announced our most recent version of Digit earlier this year, this is exactly the type of repetitive material handling deployment we had in mind—one that enables humans to be more human,” he said.
Warehouse automation still faces skepticism. According to research from ProGlove, 45.6% of 1,000 warehouse and logistics professionals surveyed in the U.S. and Europe see automation as necessary over the next five years. Just over a third are currently deploying the technology, but 27% are considering implementations, it said.
Digit, Agility's human-centric robot, can now self-right and stand back up after it falls.
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job.
Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7.
Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.
Agility Robotics was founded in 2015 to enter markets newly enabled by recent scientific and technical breakthroughs in robotic legged mobility. Agility’s roots stretch back to co-founder Jonathan Hurst’s PhD research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the early 2000’s (where he and Damion Shelton,...