Agility Robotics, a startup based in Corvallis, is planning to open a large factory in Salem later this year. The 70,000-square-foot facility will have the capacity to build more than 10,000 robots annually. The company aims to develop a robot called Digit that is designed to work with bulky materials in warehouses.
The Salem factory will be a collaboration between humans and robots, with people and machines working together. While the company did not specify the number of employees it will have at the opening, it announced that the factory could eventually employ up to 500 people.
Agility Robotics utilized technology developed at Oregon State University to create Digit, a robot with the ability to walk on two legs, climb stairs, and carry and stack large objects. The company’s headquarters are currently divided between Corvallis labs and Pittsburgh, where CEO Damion Shelton resides.
The exact cost of the new factory is unknown, as Agility Robotics did not disclose this information. It is also unclear if the company will receive any public incentives in connection with the project. However, since its establishment in 2015, Agility Robotics has raised over $180 million in private backing, including a $150 million investment last year. Notably, Amazon is among the company’s backers, as it seeks technologies to enhance its own operations.
The purpose of developing Digit is to address challenges in today’s workforce, such as injuries, burnout, high turnover, and labor shortages. By using advanced robotics technology, Agility Robotics aims to enable humans to focus on higher-level tasks, ultimately making the workforce more efficient.
Once the Salem factory is operational, Agility Robotics plans to start delivering the first Digit robots to commercial customers next year, with broad sales to follow. This development is positive news for Oregon’s manufacturing sector, as it has experienced a downturn in the past year, resulting in the loss of approximately 4,100 jobs. Despite this, the state’s overall unemployment rate remains low at 3.4%.
– Mike Rogoway | [email protected] | 503-294-7699