Another day, another story about humanoid robots, but this time, they're building a huge factory to make a whole mess of them.
Agility Robotics yesterday announced plans to open RoboFab, a robot manufacturing facility in Salem, Oregon. The company behind the bipedal Digit isn't just making a few of these things; they plan to produce more than 10,000 robots per year. So, let's see, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, we'll have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030—I'm not sure that we're going to make it.
Agility recently demonstrated Digit's capabilities in March when it showed a fleet of the latest generation of humanoid bots capable of switching between various tasks in a warehouse. Digit is designed for logistics, performing bulk material handling in warehouses and distribution centers.
Digit's new home in Salem will initially have a 70,000-square-foot footprint, and the company plans to walk at least a few hundred Digits off the line in the first year. Once the factory is up and running at full capacity, the company will require some 500 new workers in Salem, as well as a demand for new employees at Agility's other locations in Palo Alto, CA and Pittsburgh. What's more, Agility doesn't plan to just make these things but also employ them for moving, loading and unloading totes at the new factory.
Skeptics often wonder, why does my cobot need to be a humanoid? Agility says the design enables the multi-purpose utility to work safely in spaces designed for people.
According to the company, partners that participate in Agility's early adopter partner program will have first dibs on Digit, with deliveries beginning in 2024. The partners will help Agility shape Digit's development and capabilities based on real-world use cases. Partners will get special attention, including on-site visits and dedicated engineering resources. The rest of the world can get its hands on Digit come 2025.
Agility Robotics co-founder and CEO Damion Shelton says Digit was built to solve the problems of today's workforce, like injuries, burnout, high turnover and unfillable labor gaps. According to Shelton, his "ultimate vision" is to enable humans to be more human.