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Humanoid robot Digit just entered real-world logistics

Humanoid robot Digit just entered real-world logistics
Humanoid robot Digit just entered real-world logistics

Agility Robotics is taking a giant leap forward in the world of humanoid robotics. Digit, the company’s bipedal humanoid robot, is about to start its first real job. And it’s in warehousing. 

The Oregon-based company inked a deal with logistics giant GXO to deploy Digit in a Spanx warehouse in Georgia, US. The agreement follows a successful pilot program conducted last year.

Why is this important? It’s a significant milestone for an industry that has long been full of promises but short on practical applications. 

It also marks the first commercial deployment of humanoid robots in a real-world logistics setting. The partnership could signal the beginning of a new era in logistics and manufacturing.

Digit and warehouse robotics

Peggy Johnson, Agility’s CEO, emphasized the importance of this development, “There will be many firsts in the humanoid robot market in the years to come, but I’m extremely proud of the fact that Agility is the first with actual humanoid robots deployed at a customer site.” 

Johnson is extremely proud that Digit will be “generating revenue and solving real-world business problems.”

It’s the first step towards integrating advanced robotics into everyday operations. In the long run, this development could also address labor shortages and improve efficiency. 

Most industries are plagued by repetitive, physically demanding tasks. Some tasks may even pose real danger to human workers. 

MORE HERE: The truth about warehouse automation and employment

Digit’s first day on the job

Digit’s primary task at the Spanx facility will be moving plastic totes from cobots (collaborative robots) to conveyor belts. This might seem like a simple job, but it’s a crucial step in streamlining warehouse operations.

The robots are being leased under a Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) model, which allows GXO to defer the massive upfront costs typically associated with such advanced systems. 

This model also ensures that GXO will have access to ongoing support and software updates.

GXO chief automation officer, Adrian Stoch, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, saying, “We’re building on the success of last year’s groundbreaking pilot with Agility by deploying fully operational Digit humanoids into a live warehouse environment.”

The future of employable humanoid robots 

While this move is groundbreaking, it’s still early days for humanoid robots in industrial settings. 

In an interview with Tech Briefs, Agility Robotics chief product officer, Melonee Wise, discusses the progression from industrial spaces to light industrial spaces, and eventually to public spaces. 

She envisions Digit becoming an “App Store for labor,” where new capabilities can be easily added (or removed) as needed.

That said, challenges still remain. Safety regulations, for one. Standards for dynamically stable robots are still being developed. Wise says the “biggest barrier to entry to any of this is how do we make this technology safe?”

What’s in store? Agility is working on integrating large language models (LLMs) to allow for natural language commands, making human-robot interactions more intuitive.

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.

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