Thursday, April 18, 2024

Next generation Digit robot comes with a head and eyes

The American company Agility Robotics introduced an updated version of its bipedal Digits warehouse robot to the world last month, complete with a head (with LED animated eyes) and hands. The next generation of Digit is a human-centric, multi-purpose robot made for logistics work.

The robot is designed from the ground up to go where people go and do useful work safely in spaces designed for people, starting with bulk material handling within warehouses and distribution centers. The new version can handle a wider variety of demanding workloads than its headless predecessor.

The upgrades to its warehouse-friendly bot are intended to improve human-robot interaction. Standing 5 feet, 9 inches tall, the machine weighs around (63 kg), including newly designed end effectors (hands) that should make it easier to pick up the plastic totes commonly found in e-commerce and shipping warehouses. Its sensor-equipped head should make it easier for humans to understand Digit’s actions, as its eyes will help convey useful information like changing direction and other actions while at work.

“Warehouse work includes many process-automated, repetitive tasks that all too often lead to injury and high turnover, leaving costly gaps in the workforce that snarl supply chains,” explains the company in a press release. “While automation can help fill those gaps, existing automation solutions are typically single purpose, meaning companies have to onboard and maintain dozens of different solutions for different tasks, or they require expensive customization to the workspace.”

Digit is multi-purpose, so it can execute a variety of tasks and adapt to many different workflows. A fleet of Digit will be able to switch between applications depending on current warehouse needs and seasonal shifts. Also, the warehouse robot is easy to deploy into existing warehouse operations and as-built infrastructure without costly retrofitting.

At ProMat 2023, held in Chicago last month, the Digit performed fully autonomous live demonstrations in a replica warehouse work cell. The company is also opening applications for a limited number of spots in the Agility Partner Program (APPTM), which will initially be the only way to purchase the latest generation Digit.

The company hasn’t set a price tag yet. It plans to start shipping the latest version in early 2025.