Agility Robotics will mass-produce humanoid warehouse robots in new Oregon factory – GeekWire

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Todd Bishop
2023-09-18 13:22:09

Agility Robotics, which makes humanoid warehouse robots with backing from Amazon and others, announced a Salem, Ore., manufacturing facility that it says will ultimately be able to produce more than 10,000 robots a 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,” said Damion Shelton, Agility Robotics’ co-founder and CEO, in a news release.

Yes, the company’s robot, Digit, will work in the factory — moving, loading, and unloading totes of materials — but the company says the facility will employ more than 500 people at full capacity to manufacture the robot.

The latest incarnation of the Digit robot. (Agility Robotics Photo)

“This is a really significant moment in the robotics industry. This is the world’s first humanoid robot factory. This has never been done before,” said Aindrea Campbell, Agility Robotics chief operating officer, in a video about the factory.

Founded in 2015, Agility began shipping its Digit robot to customers in 2018 and inked a deal with Ford in 2020. Its robots can move packages and unload tractor trailers. They walk forward, backward, side-to-side, up and down inclines, across unstructured terrain, and can turn in place or crouch-walk.

Digit got a new head and hands earlier this year.

The company raised a $150 million funding round in April 2022, led by DCVC and Playground Global, with participation from Amazon’s $1 billion Industrial Innovation Fund.

Digit robots move warehouse totes. (Agility Robotics Photo)

Agility is based in nearby Corvalis, Ore. Campbell noted that the new factory, dubbed “RoboFab,” is 30 miles from the company’s engineering center, benefitting from proximity to the team designing the Digit robots.

Campbell, a former Apple and Ford operations and engineering leader, is leading the launch of the new factory. She likened the new facility to the creation of the first automobile factory more than a century ago.

“I think this is the same moment, where we’re now having the world’s first humanoid robot factory, and someday, just like automobiles, humanoid robots will be all around the world,” Campbell said in the video.

CNBC, which reported news of the facility earlier today, points out that Agility is putting itself ahead of competitors, including Elon Musk’s Tesla and its Optimus robot, in launching such a factory for humanoid robots.

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