Yesterday, Amazon announced that Agility Robotics is one of the five initial startups benefitting from the company’s $1 billion innovation fund. If I had to guess, I’d say that meant the retail giant was eyeing the Oregon State University spinoff as a potential addition to its warehouse robotics arsenal. After all, logistics has become an increasingly import piece of Agility’s go to market strategy for its bipedal Digit robot, while Amazon's hundreds of thousands of robots are a big part of how it manages to turn around package deliveries so quickly.
This morning, however, the company raised a massive $150 million Series B, including funds from the aforementioned Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund. This time out, however, it was DCVC and Playground Global leading the way for the investment.
“Agility is set to make a powerful impact, developing and shipping robots that are built to co-exist seamlessly in our lives," Playgound’s Bruce Leak said in a release. "Since Agility’s earliest days, we’ve believed their unique technical approach stands alone in being able to deliver on the promise of practical everyday robots.”
Born out of bipedal locomotion work on a research robot named Cassie, Agility has continued to impress investors along the way, including names like the Sony Innovation Fund. Ford also famously announced plans to utilize Digit as part of a last-mile delivery strategy, though Agility’s more recent focus has shifted to unpacking trucks and moving boxes around warehouses -- a need that has only accelerated during the pandemic.
“Unprecedented consumer and corporate demand have created an extraordinary need for robots to support people in the workplace,” says CEO Damion Shelton. “With this investment, Agility can ramp up the delivery of robots to fill roles where there’s an unmet need.”
The round brings Agility’s funding to $180 million to date. That includes a $20.25 million Series A and an $8 million seed two years prior. This is, of course, the large round by a wide margin. In a recent conversation I had with Leak and Agility CTO Jonathan Hurst, both parties pointed out how much the robotics startup has been able to accomplish with a small team and tight margins, delivering Cassie to customers way back in 2018.
This big raise will go toward expanding its operations considerably as it scales to market. In addition to its Oregon and Bay Area offices, it has opened operations in Pittsburgh -- no doubt with plans to draw on CMU and the city’s history in robotics and autonomy. All told, Agility is planning to double its headcount by 2024.