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Robots Are Looking to Bring a Human Touch to Warehouses

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Agility Robotics demonstrated its Digit robot in March at the companys headquarters in Corvallis, OR.

Some companies, seeking to address labor shortages and rising labor costs, have moved toward building warehouses that are entirely automated, known in the logistics sector as dark warehouses.

Credit: Agility Robotics

Humanoid robots are on their way to warehouses as companies start to move beyond the disembodied arms, moving trays and other machines aimed at speeding up logistics operations.

Agility Robotics, Figure AI and Boston Dynamics are among companies designing robots more closely modeled on human beings for use in distribution centers. The new machines are being engineered with the ability to walk around warehouses, reach items high on shelves, crouch to put things down and pick up and move boxes, defying some of the physical limits on automation in the industrial world.

The robot developers say their devices will help warehouse operators mitigate labor shortfalls and eliminate the need to redesign warehouses to match the capabilities of machines.

Logistics operators have been adding automation to their warehouses for years to speed up the stacking and retrieving of goods and to take some of the most burdensome, repetitive tasks off workers. Many of the devices are designed to work in concert with employees by taking on tasks such as hauling heavy goods or bringing totes of items directly to workers.

From The Wall Street Journal
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