Amazon begins testing Agility’s Digit robot for warehouse work

Brian Heater@bheater / 1:12 AM GMT+7•October 19, 2023

Image Credits: Amazon

At today’s Delivering the Future event, Amazon announced that it will begin testing Agility’s Digit bipedal robot at its facilities. Amazon Robotics CTO Tye Brady said the trial was in the “very, very early stages,” adding: “We’re taking great care to understand it better and see if it’s appropriate.” Does it fit our process or not?

Reading between the lines here, there’s no guarantee that Amazon will actually begin rolling out Digit to its warehouse facilities, which currently use north of 750,000 robotic systems.

The discovery wasn’t a big surprise. Last April, the retail giant announced a $1 billion “Industry Innovation” fund. Agility was one of the first five companies to receive a cut of that investment. The list also includes Mantis Robotics, Modjoul and Vimaan.

Amazon has long emphasized that its investments in these companies are not geared toward any broader integration with the technology, but the company often uses these types of funds to explore partnerships and even buybacks.

Agility is one of several startups building bipedal/humanoid robots for warehouse work. This theory holds that humans build workplaces around themselves, so why not build robots that can operate in those spaces. However, Agility is far ahead of the competition here in terms of development and production.

Image Credits: Amazon

“Digit can move, grasp, and handle items in warehouse spaces and corners in novel ways,” Amazon writes. “Its size and shape are well suited to buildings designed for humans, and we believe there is a huge opportunity to scale up mobile manipulation solutions, such as Digit, that can collaborate with staff. Our initial use for this technology is to help employees recycle bags, a highly repetitive process of picking up and moving empty bags after inventory has been emptied. ”

In September, the company announced that it was ramping up production in earnest with the addition of RoboFab, a factory located in Salem, Oregon that it said would be capable of producing more than 10,000 robots per year when fully operational.

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