Bipedal robot developer Agility announces $20M raise

Agility, the Oregon State University spin-off behind Digit and Cassie, announced this morning that it has raised $20 million in funding. The latest round, led by DCVC and Playground Global, brings the startup’s total funding up to $29 million. Other recent investors include TDK Ventures, MFV Partners, the Industrial Technology Investment Corporation, Sony Innovation Fund and Safar Partners.

Agility’s robots have been some of the more sophisticated I’ve seen in recent years. The original ostrich-inspired Cassie really captured the imagination of the robotics community, with a graceful, bipedal gait.

Announced last year, Digit takes things a step further, building on the Cassie base to create a package-delivery robot capable of navigating stairs and other terrain that would prove difficult for a more traditional wheeled ‘bot. In fact,  the technology really struck Ford’s fancy. The automotive giant announced that it would be Digit’s first customer, with plans to use the robot in tandem with self-driving cars for delivery.

Agility plans to use the new round of funding to deliver more of their robots for a variety of different applications. “This latest infusion of capital will enable the company to meet the demand from logistics providers, e-commerce retailers and other businesses for robots that can work alongside humans to automate repetitive, physically demanding or dangerous work,” co-founder Jonathan Hurst said in a release tied to the raise. “We look forward to accelerating the development and deployment of humanoid robots across industries to automate some of the jobs that must be done in spaces designed for humans.”

Like many others in the robotics industry, Agility is likely benefiting from increased interest amid the COVID-19-related shutdown. Plenty of delivery and logistics organizations are looking for additional ways to automate their services. Currently Digit is priced at an extremely prohibitive $250,000, though scaling the robot should help reduce its cost over time.

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