Robotics

Agility Robotics appoints Peggy Johnson as Chief Executive Officer

Veteran technology leader to spur broad commercial adoption as company prepares to deploy Digit robot at scale

Agility Robotics, creator of the market-leading bipedal Mobile Manipulation Robot (MMR) called Digit, announced the appointment of veteran technology leader Peggy Johnson as Chief Executive Officer, effective today. Johnson will draw on her decades of technology leadership experience to guide the company’s next phase of growth as Agility expands commercial deployments, broadens its product portfolio, and prepares to manufacture Digit at scale.

Agility is the only humanoid robot company with a factory on a path to mass production, and Digit is the world’s only bipedal robot currently delivering productive work for customers. It is also the only deployment-ready bipedal robot that is engineered to comply with OSHA’s stringent safety standards and demonstrated to run large AI models to adapt dynamically to new tasks.

Digit’s capability comes at a critical time: companies around the world are facing massive labor shortages and are unable to fill roles in logistics and manufacturing operations. In the United States alone, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over one million unfilled logistics positions, and that number is rising. Agility’s announced partners—which presently include Amazon and GXO, the world’s largest pure-play contract logistics provider—are using Digit to increase productivity and safety while saving their workforces from difficult and repetitive tasks.

“I am thrilled to be joining the finest robotics team on the planet,” said Johnson. “In a field cluttered with ‘demo-ware’ and hype, Agility stands apart for having resolutely, steadily, and remarkably made a human-centric robot that actually works—and in demanding customer environments. Damion Shelton and his exceptional team have positioned the company for global scale and growth across industries. Together, we will make Agility the world’s most trusted maker of robots that are as helpful to workers as they are beneficial to bottom lines. This is Agility’s time.”

Johnson most recently served as CEO of spatial computing company Magic Leap, where she led the pivot from consumer to enterprise, reset and recapitalized the company, and launched Magic Leap 2, the leading AR headset for business. Previously, Johnson spent six years as Executive Vice President of Business Development at Microsoft, reporting directly to CEO Satya Nadella, where she was responsible for driving strategic partnerships and transactions to accelerate growth for the company and its customers. While at Microsoft, Johnson launched M12, the company’s first corporate venture fund which in three years had added more than 80 companies to its portfolio. Prior to that, Johnson spent 24 years at Qualcomm, where she served as a member of the company’s Executive Committee and held various leadership positions across engineering, sales, marketing, and business development. She was responsible for leading the Internet Services division, which launched the first mobile app downloading platform, BREW, in 2001. BREW enabled the download of billions of apps to mobile phones, which enhanced Qualcomm’s chip sales and produced over $1B in revenue of app sales.

As CEO, Johnson will lead Agility’s next phase of growth, focusing on sales, strategic industry partnerships, future fundraising, and delivering robots at scale to meet overwhelming demand. Co-founder Damion Shelton, who has served as CEO since the company’s inception in 2015, will transition to the role of President, and will be an integral part of Johnson’s leadership team.

“Peggy Johnson’s long track record of engineering and business success at Qualcomm and Microsoft, and her recent achievements driving change as CEO of Magic Leap, make her the perfect leader to take Agility through the transition from cutting-edge technology startup to leading global robotics company. I couldn’t be more excited to have her join us,” said Shelton. “I also want to recognize the incredible work of our employees and our leadership team in driving Agility’s success to date. With Peggy at the helm, Agility can bring robotics to new heights.”

Throughout her career, Johnson has received extensive industry recognition for her engineering and business successes. In 2017, Business Insider named her the most powerful female engineer in the United States, and in 2016, Silicon Republic named her among the most powerful women leading technology around the world. In 2013, Johnson was inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame.

Digit, the leading bipedal robot, revolutionizes operational efficiency in production settings. Engineered to meet the safety requirements for deployment in OSHA-regulated industries, it seamlessly merges cutting-edge technology with real-world utility. Powered by advanced AI, Digit excels in navigating complex workflows, robustly interacting with diverse environments and objects, and performing tasks with precision and adaptability. This ensures immediate throughput improvement and ROI for customers, marking a new era in robotic innovation.

Digit is the first humanoid-style robot to do real work in logistics and manufacturing operations, and to be deployed at multiple customer sites. Last year, Amazon began testing Digit for use in its operations, assisting employees with highly repetitive tote recycling tasks. Additionally, leading pure-play logistics contract provider GXO put Digit to work in a SPANX facility, moving totes of womenswear products during peak holiday shipping season. The Agility Engagement Program (AEP) includes customers with large logistics and manufacturing operations across industries like e-commerce and automotive.

Later this year, Agility will open RoboFab™, a 70,000-square-foot robot manufacturing facility in Salem, Oregon. Agility anticipates production capacity of hundreds of Digit robots in the first year, with the capability to scale to more than 10,000 robots per year at this location. New RoboFabs can be built and ramped quickly and in a modular fashion to expand capacity.

Since its founding in 2015, Agility has achieved market-leading results with high cap-ex and op-ex efficiency. Its investors include DCVC, Playground Global, and the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund.

“Making humanoid robots that do actual work has proved challenging to the point of overwhelming for company after company—except Agility,” said Matt Ocko, Managing Partner of DCVC and a member of Agility’s Board of Directors. “My firm has long backed the quietly outstanding team at Agility for one simple reason: they get customer-ready results faster, more comprehensively, and more cost-effectively than any comparable team. Their delivery to multiple customers of an always-safe bipedal robot that can still simultaneously run the most sophisticated AI models in the world exemplifies this. It’s this kind of execution by Agility that attracted Peggy Johnson—one of the most seasoned and respected leaders in tech—to take the reins.”

“At Playground, we seek out inventors of groundbreaking technologies with the potential to make a huge impact in the world,” said Bruce Leak, General Partner at Playground Global and Agility Board member. “Since we led Agility’s initial funding, we have seen the company deliver on its tremendous potential. We couldn’t be happier with Peggy on board to take Agility to the next level.”

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