Building robots that let humans be more human
As robotic automation and machine learning drive a transformation of the logistics and supply chain industry, DCVC portfolio company Agility Robotics is at the forefront of reshaping how humans and robots collaborate for enhanced productivity and safety in warehouse environments. Agility’s innovative approach recently received yet another major vote of confidence after its joint announcement with Amazon, this time with the news that the company’s human-centric robot, Digit, was selected by GXO Logistics Inc., the world’s largest pure-play contract logistics provider, for a groundbreaking pilot program in a live warehouse environment.
This engagement follows Amazon’s announcement that it is testing Digit for use in its warehouses, and Agility’s opening of the first humanoid robot factory. Agility has set itself apart as the world’s only maker of humanoid robots truly able to be put to work, immediately, safely, cost-effectively, and in a manner respectful of and collaborative with human workers.
Under the GXO/SPANX pilot, Digit is being tested on logistics tasks at a facility outside Atlanta where GXO manages warehouse operations for SPANX, the global womenswear brand. Digit’s primary role involves handling repetitive tasks, specifically transferring items from autonomous mobile robots to conveyors. This job, while simple for Digit, is critical in reducing the physical demands on human workers and increasing overall safety in the workplace.
Digit is uniquely designed to operate in harmony with humans within the same space. With a carrying capacity of 35 pounds, the robot demonstrates practical applications in addressing logistic challenges. But Digit is about more than enhancing operational efficiency: its deployment points to a shift in workplace dynamics. Robots like Digit are reshaping roles, allowing human workers to focus on more strategic and engaging tasks. This evolution does more than boost productivity; it cultivates a more satisfying and dynamic work environment for humans while assigning repetitive and stressful jobs that humans don’t want to safe, effective robots.
Introducing Agility’s technology in the GXO warehouse is a testament to the logistics and supply chain sector’s rapid embrace of innovative solutions to staff jobs that humans don’t want, but which are essential to fill. This trend signals the vast potential of robotics in revolutionizing industry standards, moving the sector toward safer, more efficient, and responsive operations. This shift enables logistics organizations to staff the more than 1 million roles in the US alone that go unfilled, while delivering better wages and more meaningful work to human workers — and a multibillion-dollar recurring revenue opportunity for Agility Robotics.
Agility Robotics’ leadership is making the company a cornerstone in what amounts to an industrial re-build. Agility’s advances go beyond technical achievement; they are actively redefining the synergy between humans and robots in professional settings. At DCVC, we’re thrilled to support and invest in Agility and other technologies that herald a future where human and robotic collaboration leads to enhanced efficiency, safety, and satisfaction in the workplace.
Matt Ocko is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of DCVC.