The robot is set to be tested first at Amazon’s robotics R&D facility, just south of Seattle.
Digit is developed by Agility Robotics, which is part of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund.
Designed to be human-centric and multi-purpose, the robot is able to move, grasp, and handle warehouse items and inventory.
The solution’s size and shape are reportedly well-suited for any building designed for people, with both companies hoping to scale the collaborative robot (cobot) to improve workplace safety and efficiency.
However, the move has been criticised by workers’ unions. “Amazon’s automation is [a] head-first race to job losses,” said Stuart Richards, an organiser at UK trade union GMB.
“We’ve already seen hundreds of jobs disappear to it in fulfilment centres.”
Tote recycling will be one of Digit’s chief responsibilities. This is a highly repetitive process that involves picking up and moving empty totes once inventory has been picked.
“Digit’s size and shape are well-suited for buildings that are designed for humans, and we believe that there is a big opportunity to scale a mobile manipulator solution,” said Emily Vetterick, Director of Engineering, Amazon.
“Collaborative robotics solutions like Digit support workplace safety and help Amazon deliver to customers faster, while creating new opportunities and career paths for our employees.”
Other initial applications include bulk material handling within warehouses and distribution centres.
Agility recently announced plans to open a 70,000ft2 robot manufacturing facility in Salem, Oregon, with plans to produces hundreds of Digit models in its first year.
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