You can’t underestimate science and technology. Anytime you might see a robot delivering parcel at your doorstep, and that’s exactly the future envisioned by Ford. Ford, in collaboration with startup Agility Robotics, is in a joint research project that will test how a two-legged robot, named ‘Digit’ and a self-driving vehicle can work together to solve that curb-to-door problem.
Digit is a two-legged, lidar-equipped robot designed and built by Agility Robotics. It’s capable of carrying 40-pound packages anywhere a person could, before folding itself up for easy storage in the back of a van. Ford thinks the creation might pair well with its autonomous aims, as the robot can be seen making its way out of an autonomous Transit Connect to drop off a box in the company’s promotional video.
We’re looking at the opportunity of autonomous vehicles through the lens of the consumer and we know from some early experimentation that there are challenges with the last 50 feet – Ken Washington, explained Ford’s chief technology officer
The Digit is a creation of startup Agility Robotics, which has been developing bipedal robots since 2015 when the company was spun out of research from Oregon State University. In Ford’s imagining, Digit would be bundled into the back of a self-driving car. When the vehicle reaches its destination, the trunk pops open, and Digit unfolds itself and then completes the last crucial step of the delivery: picking up the parcel and dropping it on your doorstep. No humans required.
For Agility, this project is a huge turning point to accelerate its new business. Digit, which has an upper torso, arms, sensors and additional computing power to the Cassie design, was introduced in February 2019. The company had launched its ostrich-inspired Cassie robot in 2017 as a bipedal research platform.