Yesterday, Amazon announced that Agility Robotics is one of the first five startups to benefit from the company’s $1 billion innovation fund. If I had to guess, I’d say 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 important part 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 parcel deliveries around 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, however, it was DCVC and Playground Global who led the way for the investment.
“Agility will have a powerful impact by developing and shipping robots that are built to coexist seamlessly in our lives,” Playgound’s Bruce Leak said in a release. “Since the early days of Agility, we’ve believed that their unique engineering approach stands on its own to deliver on the promise of practical everyday robots.”
Born from bipedal locomotion work on a research robot called Cassie, Agility has continued to impress investors along the way, including names like the Sony Innovation Fund. Ford also famously announced plans to use 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 increased amid the pandemic. increased.
“Unprecedented consumer and business demand has led to an extraordinary need for robots to support people in the workplace,” said CEO Damion Shelton. “With this investment, Agility can ramp up the delivery of robots to fill roles where there is 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 earlier. This is, of course, the grand round by a wide margin. In a recent conversation I had with Leak and Agility CTO Jonathan Hurst, both sides pointed out how much the robotics startup has been able to achieve with a small team and tight margins, delivering Cassie to customers as early as 2018.
This large increase will significantly expand its business as it hits the market. In addition to its Oregon and Bay Area offices, it has also opened branches in Pittsburgh — no doubt with plans to leverage CMU and the city’s history of robotics and autonomy. All things considered, Agility plans to double its workforce by 2024.