As it brings its bipedal robots to market, Agility announces a $150M round

From Tech Crunch:

Yesterday, Amazon announced that Agility Robotics is one of the five initial startups benefitting from the company’s $1 billion innovation fund. If I had to guess, I’d say that meant the retail giant was eyeing the Oregon State University spinoff as a potential addition to its warehouse robotics arsenal. After all, logistics has become an increasingly import piece of Agility’s go to market strategy for its bipedal Digit robot, while Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of robots are a big part of how it manages to turn around package deliveries so quickly.

This morning, however, the company raised a massive $150 million Series B, including funds from the aforementioned Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund. This time out, however, it was DCVC and Playground Global leading the way for the investment.

“Agility is set to make a powerful impact, developing and shipping robots that are built to co-exist seamlessly in our lives,” Playgound’s Bruce Leak said in a release. “Since Agility’s earliest days, we’ve believed their unique technical approach stands alone in being able to deliver on the promise of practical everyday robots.”

Born out of bipedal locomotion work on a research robot named Cassie, Agility has continued to impress investors along the way, including names like the Sony Innovation Fund. Ford also famously announced plans to utilize Digit as part of a last-mile delivery strategy, though Agility’s more recent focus has shifted to unpacking trucks and moving boxes around warehouses — a need that has only accelerated during the pandemic.

Link to the rest at Tech Crunch and thanks to F. for the tip.

5 thoughts on “As it brings its bipedal robots to market, Agility announces a $150M round”

  1. The next wave of automation is upon us.

    Those that worry about robots putting people out of work are missing the plot of tbe story. And the story is demographics and the reindustralization of the US. The end of globalzation and a whole new era of supply chains. (The transition is already proving to be murder.) And robots in all their forms are going to be key to what is quietly going on. Quietly because those that moved first are going to have a leg up on tbe laggards and tbey’re going to milk it for all it’s worth.

    Amazon is not alone in phasing in more and more robots and DIGIT is nowhere near the only humanoid robot we’ll see nor will they be limited to factory and warehouse work, making up the 900,000 employee shortage headed our way. (Look up the country by country fertility charts.)

    In Japan (who are a generation ahead of Europe in demographic collapse) they’re working on nursing assistant and elder care robots. A more pressing problem than industrial robits.

    The US is at least a generation behind Europe in population decline (depending on brain drains this decade) but ahead of everybody else in tbe faux-AI that will drive the humanoid robots. In other words, the humanoids will be everywhere. And they will deploy just in time to replace the workers lost from population decline. Robots, round 3 is unavoidable.

    Its just beautiful story fodder, really.

    Here’s one view of how the economy might play out the next few years:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8kiRn743qo

    There’s other grimmer ones but this one shows a way out of the mess we’re in.

    • I barely remember it. Unlike SHORT CIRCUIT which was more amusing.

      Hollywood humanoid robots tend to be skinny guys in suits (Hello Anthony Daniels!) when they don’t go all the way to androids like Trek’s DATA and LORE. It’s cheaper and easier on the actors.

      Which brings up an entirely different and more controversial side of robotics. Sexbots. Several companies in bith the west and east have been working that side of robotics. With 34 million more males than females, China is a logical market for this kind of…product… But again it is Japan in the lead. CNET has been tracking the subject since 2017 with a slew of articles.

      The Mirror has this not-safe-for-work piece:
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/sex-robot-brothel-opens-japan-14792161

      The countries listed are all among the lowest fertility rate nations though the linkage is unproven.

      Not exactly HELEN O’LOY stuff.
      Strange times out there.

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