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Agility Robotics lays off some staff amid commercialization focus

Agility Robotics on Thursday confirmed that it has laid off a “small number” of employees. The well-funded Oregon-based firm says the job loss is part of a company-wide focus on commercialization efforts.

“As part of Agility’s ongoing efforts to structure the company for success, we have parted ways with a small number of employees that were not central to core product development and commercialization,” the company wrote in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “At the same time, we are focused on meeting the extraordinary demand for bipedal robots across industrial use cases. That means ramping up production of Digit while continuing to win top-tier global customers, and adding new roles that meet these goals. We believe today’s actions will allow us to focus on the areas that drive productization, commercialization, and production of Digit.”

Agility was ahead of the industrial humanoid curve with its bipedal robot, Digit. The firm was spun out of research conducted at Oregon State University. There’s been no lack of interest in its impressive legged robots over the years. Ford was an early champion, as Agility explored Digit’s last-mile-delivery potential. Ultimately, however, those efforts were placed on the back burner, as the company shifted focus to understaffed warehouses.

There’s been no lack of funding for Agility’s efforts, despite a general slowdown in investments in and adoption of robotic systems, both of which can be seen as corrections following a massive pandemic-fueled boom.

Two years ago this month, the company announced a $150 million Series B. Amazon notably participated in the round by way of its Industrial Innovation Fund. The retail giant subsequently announced that it would pilot Digits as part of its fulfillment center workflow. The pilots have since ended, but neither company has announced next steps.

A number of other humanoid robotics firms have announced their own pilots in recent months, including Figure with BMW and Apptronik with Mercedes. Last month at Modex, Agility showcased updates to Digit’s end effectors designed specifically for automotive manufacturing workflows.

Agility has also made a number of high-profile hires over the past year, including Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson joining as chief executive, Fetch CEO Melonee Wise as CTO and former Apple and Ford executive Aindrea Campbell in as COO.

The company’s jobs page currently lists five open roles, largely focused on engineering and manufacturing.

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