Ford and Agility Robotics announced they are working together to on a research project to test the integration of Agility’s bipedal robot, Digit, with self-driving delivery vehicles—Ford Transit Connects—to understand their potential as a last mile delivery solution that carries packages from a vehicle to the door.
Digit’s design allows it to fold itself up for storage in the back of a self-driving vehicle. Then, the two-legged robot can be deployed, grab a 40 lb (18 kg) package from the vehicle, and deliver that package to the door, navigating steps, obstacles, and uneven environments along the way. The robot can even react to being bumped without losing its balance and falling over.
Ford’s autonomous vehicle technology can wirelessly deliver information to Digit to help the robot determine the best pathway to the front door. Digit has a LiDAR and a few stereo cameras for basic navigation tasks, and it communicates with the vehicle for assistance if it encounters obstacles it can’t navigate around. The car can send that information into the cloud to get help from other systems if necessary. By using the technology of the vehicle and even the cloud, Digit’s design can be kept lightweight and nimble, which helps to ensure that it has a long run time.