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Robotics Offers Route for US Manufacturing Renaissance

Aindrea Campbell knows more than most about high-tech production. In her previous role, she was senior director of iPad operations at Apple, helping to run the sophisticated assembly lines in China that produce tens of millions of the tablet computers each year. 

But, now, as chief operating officer of Agility Robotics, Campbell will oversee the production of pioneering products in the US. In September, the company announced that its 70,000 sq ft RoboFab — the “world’s first factory” for building humanlike robots — would be located in Salem, Oregon, less than an hour’s drive from the start-up’s headquarters in Corvallis. 

“What’s most attractive is being close to the engineering team — having that connection with engineering, so we can address issues and gain learnings, and really cycle the product through our production development process much faster,” says Campbell, who took up her role in January. 

Within the next 12 months, Agility plans to start building its Digit model bipedal, autonomous robots, which are designed to handle warehouse and logistics work alongside human employees. Starting in the hundreds, the factory has capacity to produce 10,000 Digits a year, to work on the assembly lines of Fortune 100 companies.

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