warehouse robot
Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
May 10, 2023 ·  4 min read

Warehouse Robot Collapses After Working For 20 Hours Straight

A recent article posted in several media publications spoke of a warehouse robot that had apparently collapsed after it had worked for 20 hours straight. According to a new report, it didn’t actually deactivate itself. Many believed it ‘got tired’, but some software/sensor errors led to its collapse. To put it chronologically for all our readers, this is the story of Digit, a motorized moving mess of bolts and wires. In April, a news site published that the robot had collapsed after it was put through rigorous testing- with several attributing it to the robot gaining consciousness.

This theory was then debunked, as reported by The Associated Press. Nevertheless, one couldn’t deny that Digit was put through a rigorous day, as it showed its cool tricks and circuitry to the audience for 20 straight hours. [1]

Warehouse Robot Collapses After Functioning For 20 Hours- Social Media Claims The Robot Had Achieved Consciousness

The company behind Digit later claimed that the jobs that were completed by this warehouse robot had a success rate of 99%. The parent company, Agility Robotics, has always claimed that a multi-faceted utility of robots is what they aspire for. In a press release, they mentioned, “We started with scientific breakthroughs, and layered on top of that world-class engineering. We approach everything with a focus on function. Our robots were designed from day one to do work and get the job done.

Regardless of the expertise behind creating the robot, there can be minute errors in the process- which is absolutely normal and is later fixed during upgrades. So there was absolutely no reason to believe that the robot had collapsed by itself- something an individual would have done if they were working for 20 hours on the trot. 

Incidentally, Digit, the warehouse robot, had fallen down a few times while working- and the company wanted to show that the robot wasn’t a perfect specimen- but it would get the job done after picking itself up. Liz Clinkenbeard, the Vice President of Communications at the company, mentioned, “We wanted to show that Digit did fall a couple of times, that it’s a normal part of any new technology, and it’s not a big deal.” Usually, the reason behind the robot tripping was a sensor malfunction. Liz remarked further, “Sometimes it may need a repair; rarely something that takes more than 15-20 minutes. We do want to be careful about not over-humanizing a machine or ascribing intent. While Digit looks something like a person, in reality, it is a computer that can do physical work, and it’s following a program.” 

The Collapse Was Actually Part Of The Plan

The usual response to this warehouse robot shutting down was that the robot had decided to end its life after such hard work and no pay. Clinkenbeard acknowledged some of the jokes but also made it clear that it wasn’t appreciable to joke about suicide. Later, The Associated Press decided to clear the air regarding this warehouse robot. Some individuals on social media had taken the depressed worker trope and attributed it to this robot- claiming that it had become conscious and decided to quit existing after it realized it would have to work with human beings. 

AP made it quite clear that these claims of the warehouse robot finally breaching the human-robot barrier were hugely overestimating the thinking power of the robot- which had just the qualities of picking up and stacking boxes at the 2023 ProMat supply chain trade show in March in Chicago. The company also clarified that Digit had fallen down quite a few times and it was all about software errors. The robot didn’t deactivate itself, and it certainly didn’t have any humane traits. [2]

Fortunately, there were some users that did see the proper humor in the situation. One individual commented, “If it had followed the warehouse safety guidelines this could have all been avoided!!” Another individual appreciated the brutal honesty displayed by Digit’s creators- “Showing the failure modes is so cool! I really love that in a demo. Nothing is ever perfect, so show me the rough edges.”

Keep Reading: Farming Robot Kills 200,000 Weeds Per Hour With Lasers


  1. Warehouse robot collapses after working for 20 hours straight.” UNILAD. Rachel Lang. May 1, 2023.
  2. Robot in popular video didn’t deactivate itself.” AP News.  The Associated Press. April 19, 2023