Robotics

Two-legged robot delivers packages to your door

Two-legged robot delivers pack...
Ford has partnered with Agility Robotics to explore a possible future where autonomous vehicles transport delivery robots around city and urban locations 
Ford has partnered with Agility Robotics to explore a possible future where autonomous vehicles transport delivery robots around city and urban locations 
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Digit can transport packages weighing up to 40 lb
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Digit can transport packages weighing up to 40 lb
Ford imagines Digit delivering packages to a customer's door from an autonomous delivery vehicle
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Ford imagines Digit delivering packages to a customer's door from an autonomous delivery vehicle
Digit is equipped with LiDAR and stereo cameras, though will get much of the mapping information it needs from the autonomous vehicle's navigation systems
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Digit is equipped with LiDAR and stereo cameras, though will get much of the mapping information it needs from the autonomous vehicle's navigation systems
Digit can walk over uneven terrain and navigate obstacles, and can walk up and down steps
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Digit can walk over uneven terrain and navigate obstacles, and can walk up and down steps
If Digit encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will wirelessly communicate with the autonomous delivery vehicle it traveled with to find a solution
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If Digit encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will wirelessly communicate with the autonomous delivery vehicle it traveled with to find a solution
Digit's arms and legs can fold up tight to the torso during travel, and unfold when making a delivery
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Digit's arms and legs can fold up tight to the torso during travel, and unfold when making a delivery
Digit can walk over uneven terrain and navigate obstacles, and can walk up and down steps
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Digit can walk over uneven terrain and navigate obstacles, and can walk up and down steps
Ford has partnered with Agility Robotics to explore a possible future where autonomous vehicles transport delivery robots around city and urban locations 
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Ford has partnered with Agility Robotics to explore a possible future where autonomous vehicles transport delivery robots around city and urban locations 
If Digit encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will wirelessly communicate with the autonomous delivery vehicle it traveled with to find a solution
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If Digit encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will wirelessly communicate with the autonomous delivery vehicle it traveled with to find a solution
Digit's torso is home to two multi-core CPUs, and it features LiDAR and stereo cameras for basic autonomous navigation
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Digit's torso is home to two multi-core CPUs, and it features LiDAR and stereo cameras for basic autonomous navigation

In the near future, delivery truck drivers may be replaced by autonomous vehicles or drones that can take a package right to your door. Ford is looking to this future with a parcel-delivering robot called Digit that can be transported to a customer's address in a self-driving car or van, get itself out of the back, pick up the package and walk up the garden path to the front door.

People are already being moved around city and urban locations in self-driving vehicles, and this sort of thing looks set to become an everyday feature in future transport models. Ford is now looking at putting such vehicles to good use when they don't have passengers to take from A to B.

The automotive giant has teamed up with Agility Robotics to explore using a bi-pedal robot to deliver packages from roadside to door. Agility's Digit bot can lift packages of up to 40 lb (18 kg) in weight, walk over uneven terrain and navigate obstacles, can travel up and down stairs and even stay upright if someone or something bumps into it.

Digit's arms and legs fold up tight to the torso for storage in the back of an autonomous ride. The idea is that when a self-driving pod or taxi finds itself without passengers, it can serve as a delivery vehicle. When a destination is reached, the back door is opened, Digit unfolds itself, grabs a package and ambles up to the front door to drop it off.

Ford imagines Digit delivering packages to a customer's door from an autonomous delivery vehicle
Ford imagines Digit delivering packages to a customer's door from an autonomous delivery vehicle

Though the robot is equipped with LiDAR and some stereo cameras to help it navigate from the car to the door, it makes use of the mapping information gathered by the autonomous vehicle, from cameras and sensors mounted on the vehicle, which is sent wirelessly to Digit before it sets off on its delivery job.

If Digit encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will send an SOS to the vehicle so that a navigation solution can be found. If the car struggles to find a way through, it could itself send a help request to support systems in the cloud.

Ford says that Digit is made from lightweight materials, though no details are given, and that an autonomous delivery service can look forward to all day operation before the robot runs out of juice.

This use case scenario is just a possible future use for Digit of course, and Ford has not indicated that such a service would enter operation. Agility Robotics does intend to bring its Digit robot to market though, in early Q1 2020. You can see Digit in action in the video below.

Sources: Ford, Agility Robotics

6 comments
VincentWolf
And a 2 legged human follows and removes it. Call police!
f8lee
Or, the household version you have for security disables the porch pirate - never mind the Ring video; let the bastard wait for the cops under the watchful eye of "secure-bot"! And I can't wait to see how these get weaponized!
Edwin Austin
The husband comes home early and finds Digit in his bed with his wife smoking a cigarette.
guzmanchinky
You know those commercials from the 50's and 70's that look absolutely hilarious to us now? This will look the same way in a few decades or less. But I would probably prefer this to a noisy drone delivery...
ljaques
And Mom and daughter walk on by the safety hazard. If Ford had been thinking, they would have had Mom tell her girl to move the scooter onto the lawn so people didn't trip on it. As it is, it reinforces the Do Nothing approach that is overtaking our society. Sad. Vince, a recent post on FB said "I replaced my litter box with a FedEX box. Now, when it's full, I just tape it up and put it on my porch for someone to steal." Cracked me up, it did.
JagtygerII
Just what America needs, more unemployed American workers replaced by machines. Yes Sir, Ford Has a Better Idea