Tesla’s first production robot competitor has hit the market
Agility Robotics’ Digit robot has been released and is the first robot headed to production ahead of the hotly anticipated Tesla Optimus.
Agility Robotics, along with Boston Dynamics, has been a leader within the industrial robotics space, especially since the launch of its most advanced bipedal robot three years ago, Digit. Since the launch, the company has been hard at work improving Digit, and now, it is ready for a wider release and will be allowing select businesses to implement Digit in the near future.
As seen in the now viral videos of the Digit robot, it is primarily designed for what Agility calls “logistics work,” or working within warehouses and distribution centers. The test that Agility uses to show off the capabilities of Digit involves a rack of empty bins that the robot must move to a nearby conveyer and has been shown on video by Twitter user Simon Kalouche.
The FIRST commercialized humanoid robot!! Congrats @agilityrobotics @JonathanWHurst pic.twitter.com/h4XlMH3p01
— Simon Kalouche (@simonkalouche) March 20, 2023
“Three years ago, we introduced the first commercially available bi-pedal robot with a human form factor made for work. Since then, we have seen enormous interest in Digit from multinational logistics companies and have worked closely with them to understand how they want to use Digit to improve warehouse and supply chain operations. We designed the next generation of Digit with those customer use cases in mind,” said Damion Shelton, co-founder, and CEO of Agility Robotics.
It should be noted that this iteration of Digit is the second generation of the robot and is part of a long line of innovations from Agility Robotics. This newest generation employs more plastic “faring” pieces that cover the sensitive electronics, a larger “head” fitted with LED “eyes” that can help show where the robot is going, as well as numerous technical upgrades to the robot’s overall mobility.
Much like Tesla Optimus, Digit uses a combination of numerous sensors to navigate its environment. However, it does seem to use a larger array of cameras, which have been strategically placed on every side of the robot. This visual data can be compiled with accelerometer and gyroscopic data to keep the robot standing and ensure that it can get where it needs to go.
According to Agility, Digit will be available to a select number of businesses as part of the “Agility Partner Program,” which will help the company test Digit in a real-world environment. Agility has not specified when Digit will be available for wider release.
Agility and its Digit robot project aim to free humans from “robotic tasks,” much like those in a warehouse. These tasks are not only repetitive and monotonous, but can also easily injure workers after a long enough time, leading to high employee turnover for many businesses in this sector.
This isn’t to say that Agility, much like many other robotics companies, is without its critics. Some have argued that removing this large segment of workers from many communities could damage the economy and the nation in general, especially as the use of robots continues to grow in the coming years.
In response to these arguments, the Agility CEO has reiterated his company’s mission of enabling humans to be more human. “Companies are turning to automation now more than ever to help mitigate future disruptions. With logistics labor issues such as high turnover, burnout, and injury continuing to rise, we believe Digit to be the future of work,” continued Shelton. “We look forward to Digit augmenting workforces, taking on the ‘dull, dirty, and dangerous’ tasks, and allowing people to focus on more creative and complex work. We like to think of Digit as enabling humans to be more human.”
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