Updated: Feb 24
Californian start-up Agility Robotics has begun the commercialize its first product called Digit which is a bipedal robot designed for logistics applications. The robot is approximately the size and shape of a small adult human. It is able to navigate environments semi-autonomously with the help of LIDAR (it has a Velodyne LIDAR for a head) and other sensors. It can carry boxes in its arms up to 18kg (40 pounds) in weight, and as it has two legs can perform tasks such as climb up and down stairs while doing so. Agility Robotics says it can be put to a range of uses, including in logistics, warehouses, telepresence, and industrial inspection. But companies will need to find out for themselves how well Digit can manage these jobs. Digit can perform some operations autonomously, but it is not able to adapt to new environments as easily as a human. Agility has said that they expect to sell the robot for around $3-400,000 initially, which would price it at the high end of the industrial robotic market. However, they claim that the cost of the robot would work out to around $25 per hour over its expected lifetime including service and maintenance. The production run for Digit remains low with only around 20-30 units of the system expected to be made in 2020. Car manufacturer Ford which has been working with Agility to explore last mile delivery solutions for a couple of years is the first customer having bought two of them recently. Although mobile, multi-purpose robots have improved dramatically in recent years thanks to advances in battery and navigation tech, they have yet to prove themselves at scale and high sales volumes are still probably years away.