Agility Robotics Expands Amazon Relationship With Digit Testing

Humanoid robot to assist Amazon warehouse workers with repetitive tote tasks.

Business Wire

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.

A week after 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.

The company, which has offices in Pittsburgh and Palo Alto, Calif., said it designed its humanoid robot to safely do useful work for “multi-purpose utility.” Agility has initially targeted applications including bulk material handling in warehouses and distribution centers.

“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.

Want to learn more about cobot arms? This article was featured in the April 2024 Robotics 24/7 Special Focus Issue titled “Collaborating with robot arms, platforms.”

Digit, Agility's human-centric robot, can now self-right and stand back up after it falls.

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Business Wire

Agility Robotics' Digit in an Amazon facility.

Robot Technologies