Agility Robotics: Digit, Amazon and workplace efficiencies

Digit was designed from the ground up to operate amongst human workforces (Image: Agility Robotics)
From Amazon partnerships, to creating humanoid robots who can pick themselves up off the ground, Agility Robotics continues to innovate in the workplace

Agility Robotics builds robots made for work that can operate in nearly any environment, alongside people. 

Based in Albany, Oregon, the company has been developing and manufacturing robots since 2015. It was founded by Damion Shelton, Jonathan Hurst and Mikhail Jones, with a mission of harnessing robots for good.

One of its most recent humanoid robots, Digit, is designed to move in a more dynamic fashion than regular robots. It has two legs and is covered in sensors, allowing it to navigate complex environments, with its size and shape well-suited for logistics work.

Amazon and Digit

Those who work at Agility Robotics have come from a range of different global industries, ranging from builders, artists, engineers, teachers and rocket scientists. The company started with developing scientific breakthroughs with world-class engineering and continues to approach everything with a focus on robot function.

Digit was designed from the ground up to operate amongst human workforces and complete safe and useful tasks that are typically designed for people. Its humanoid design enables multi-purpose utility and aims to support human workflows, which include bulk material handling within warehouses and distribution centres.

In the same vein, Agility Robotics recently partnered with Amazon to commence testing human-like robot solutions at its robotics research and development site. It is the hope that Digit will perform repetitive tasks, and work collaboratively with employees. Amazon’s initial use of the robot will be to help employees with tote recycling, which is a highly repetitive process of picking up and moving empty totes once inventory has been completely picked out of them.

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The company recently expanded these operations with Amazon, announcing that the tech giant will begin testing Digit for use in their operations. It will first be tested at Amazon’s robotics research and development facility just south of Seattle, further broadening the relationship between the two companies - especially as Agility is already part of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund

RoboFab: Manufacturing at scale

In September 2023, Agility Robotics announced that the company is opening RoboFab, a 70,000 square foot robot manufacturing facility in Salem, Oregon. Initial construction of the robot factory began last year and the facility hopes to employ more than 500 workers in Salem, in addition to employees at Agility Robotics’ other locations. 

Digit will also work in the new factory, in a similar capacity to Agility's customer sites, with duties consisting of moving, loading and unloading totes. The company has said that it is anticipating the production capacity of hundreds of Digit robots in the first year, with the capability to scale to more than 10,000 robots per year. 

“The opening of our factory marks a pivotal moment in the history of robotics: the beginning of the mass production of commercial humanoid robots,” says Damion Shelton, co-founder and CEO. 

“We built Digit to solve difficult problems in today’s workforce like injuries, burnout, high turnover and unfillable labour gaps, with the ultimate vision of enabling humans to be more human. When you’re building new technology to make society better, the most important milestone is when you’re able to mass produce that technology at a scale where it can have a real, widespread impact.”

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