“Agility Robotics Appoints Forward-Thinking CEO Prioritizing Present Success”

Agility Robotics’ new CEO is ‘focused on the here and now’ The Digit-maker’s current and former CEOs discuss Amazon, Generative AI and last-mile deliveryThere was nothing else like Digit on the ProMat floor last year. This week, Agility named Microsoft veteran Peggy Johnson its second-ever CEO. They’re just focused on a handful of use cases that Digit can provide value for.”Perhaps the biggest difference between Agility and the growing army of humanoid robotics startups is its sizable head start. The firm was founded in 2015 as a spinoff of Hurst’s work on legged robotics at Oregon State University. While Agility isn’t explicitly looking to raise at the moment, the company says the possibility is always on the table.

Agility Robotics’ new CEO is “focused on the here and now.” The discussion surrounding the Digit-maker’s latest leader and the future of industrial robotics has shifted dramatically since the company’s impressive showing at last year’s ProMat event.

The notion of humanoid robots working in factories no longer feels like some distant fantasy.

This sentiment is further validated by competitor Figure’s recent $675 million fundraise. Interest in humanoid robots is at an all-time high and deep-pocketed investors are no longer considering it a pipe dream.

At last year’s ProMat, Agility’s small army of bipedal robots stole the show, leaving an impression on everyone who saw them in action. However, the conversation has since shifted towards the reality of using humanoid robots in the industrial sector.

  • The demos captured something fundamental about the industry – as highly complex and technically impressive bots repeated the same dull activity over and over again.

  • Agility’s co-founder Damion Shelton reflects, “When we got through ProMat last year, that was really the point where I’m like, ‘okay, the company is very different now than when we founded it’.”

As the demand for Agility’s robots continues to grow, the company has undergone some changes in leadership. Prior to the event, Aindrea Campbell was brought on as COO to handle their expanding manufacturing plans. And a few months after, co-founder Jonathan Hurst stepped down from the CTO role to focus on research, making way for Melonee Wise to step in.

This week, Agility announced that Microsoft veteran Peggy Johnson will take over as their second-ever CEO. Uniquely, the company now has female executives in three C-Suite roles. While Johnson may lack a background in robotics, her extensive experience in the tech industry makes her a valuable asset to the team.

Johnson explains, “It’s exciting for me to join a company where there is already product-market fit. Digit is already providing ROI to customers, and that’s what drew me in.”

One key advantage that Agility has over its competitors is its head start. The company was founded in 2015, and their robot Digit made its public debut four years later. At the time, Agility saw last-mile delivery as their most viable market, but eventually shifted their focus to warehouse automation.

With over 200 employees and numerous successful partnerships, Agility is not slowing down anytime soon. Johnson remarks, “I appreciate the company’s focus on delivering value in the present, while always keeping an eye on the future.”

Digit’s ability to traverse uneven terrain makes it stand out among other warehouse robots, and Agility is constantly looking for ways to improve its capabilities. Their partnership with Amazon, in which Digit was utilized in select pilots last year, was a hit.

Shelton shares, “It went really well. We’re excited to continue with them as a partner, but no major updates since the event last fall.”

Johnson adds, “Agility’s focus on the present is what convinced me to join the team. They are spot on in delivering value to customers right now, and that’s incredibly important.”

As researchers continue to explore the potential of Generative AI, Agility is constantly looking for ways to incorporate it into their robots. While they are not actively seeking funding, they are always open to opportunities that will help them continue to grow and innovate.

Shelton concludes, “All boats rise with those kinds of headlines, and we will certainly leverage that. The data point is out there, and our last fundraising round was three years ago.”

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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