Agility Robotics raises $20m to deploy humanoid robots
US start-up Agility Robotics has closed a $20 million investment, which enables the company to meet the demand from logistics providers and e-commerce retailers for robots working alongside humans.
DCVC and Playground Global co-led the round and were joined by TDK Ventures, MFV Partners, the Industrial Technology Investment Corporation, Sony Innovation Fund, and Safar Partners. Since its founding in 2015, Agility Robotics has raised a total of $29m.
The company’s technology helps with automating repetitive, physically demanding or dangerous work safely and scalably, even in the majority of spaces that are not purpose-built for automation.
Digit, Agility Robotics’ humanoid robot with both mobility and manipulation capabilities, is commercially available and has been shipping to customers since July 2020. Digit builds on two decades of research and development from the team on human-like dynamic mobility and manipulation, and can handle unstructured indoor and outdoor terrain, going where people go.
In early January this year Ford partnered with Agility Robotics to use the then newly launched Digit, fitted with arms and legs, to have it carry parcels from the delivery vehicle right to the customer’s door.
Co-founder and CEO Damion Shelton explained: “It’s never been clearer that our society’s demand for manual labor exceeds our ability to generate it safely, and it is far past time we have a solution which can work alongside humans to raise the bar on quality of life and free up human time.”
Co-founder and CTO Jonathan Hurst added: “We’re excited to work with investors who understand our unique approach to legged locomotion, see the promise, and share our vision of robots that work in human spaces with stairs, curbs, hallways, and uneven surfaces.
“We look forward to accelerating the development and deployment of Digit across industries to automate some of the classic ‘Dull, Dirty, and Dangerous’ jobs that must be done in spaces designed for humans, not for robots.”
Agility Robotics provides a solution that is unique and ideal for multiple industries and use cases. Digit combines the most advanced legged locomotion and whole-body manipulation capabilities, such as lifting a box from the floor to a shelf, with efficient operation and a useful battery life.
With this financing, DCVC’s Matt Ocko will join Agility Robotics’ board of directors. Ocko commented: “Agility truly embodies DCVC’s core thesis that Deep Tech innovation equitably delivers more economic benefits to more people, more quickly than broken ‘business as usual’ approaches.
“Over time, we believe Agility’s robots will transform the way we deliver goods, essential items like food and medicine, and even services, to more people for less money, all while safely and respectfully empowering human co-workers along the way.”
Furthermore, Bruce Leak, partner at Playground Global and Agility Robotics’ board member, said: “As investors across the robotics and logistics ecosystems, we know all too well the challenges facing retailers and logistics companies in hiring hundreds of thousands of people during surges in demand like the current pandemic and, more commonly, holiday seasons.
“With Digit, Agility Robotics is uniquely positioned to provide a practical and scalable solution for businesses that also improves human safety.”