Ford and Agility developing humanoid robot for last mile delivery

‘Digit robot’ will work with autonomous vehicle to deliver parcels to the doorstep
Ford, Agility robotics, Last mile, Delivery


Ford and Agility Robotics have announced a collaboration to develop a delivery robot that can bring parcels direct to the doorstep, reports Smart Cities Arabia.

The ‘Digit’ robot is a humanoid robot, designed to work in tandem with an autonomous delivery vehicle.

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The lightweight robot, which was designed and built by Agility Robotics, can lift and carry packages of up to 40lbs (18kg). It can climb stairs, manage uneven terrain, and recover from being bumper or knocked without falling over.

The robot is designed to operate from a self-driving vehicle, so that the AV can bring the robot to the destination, and the robot completes the delivery.

On top of that, the robot will also access mapping and location data from the vehicle’s own sensor arrays. While Digit has its own LiDAR and stereo cameras, it will access the more comprehensive location data collected by the vehicle to gain a better picture of the immediate surroundings and to plot a path to the front door of the recipient.

The robot and vehicle will communicate wirelessly when the robot is out of the car - Digit will be able to send data back to the vehicle if it encounters unexpected obstacles and they can jointly work on a new route, or the car can connect back to the cloud for more information or support.

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This collaborative mode means that Digit can be kept lightweight, giving it longer operational time.

In a blog post, Dr. Ken Washington, Vice President, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, and Chief Technology Officer said: “Together, we will work toward making sure self-driving vehicles are uniquely outfitted to accomplish something that’s proven surprisingly difficult to do: Carry out that final step of getting your delivery from the car to your door.

“We’ve learned in our pilot programs, it’s not always convenient for people to leave their homes to retrieve deliveries or for businesses to run their own delivery services. If we can free people up to focus less on the logistics of making deliveries, they can turn their time and effort to things that really need their attention.”

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