Ford is thinking mobility beyond its traditional vehicles.
The automaker is working with Agility Robotics to develop a two-legged robot that can walk like a human and carry packages to the front door.
The anticipated problem being solved here is getting a package from a self-driving vehicle delivered those last few steps from the car to a customer’s home.
The robot, called Digit, was designed by Agility Robotics out of lightweight material and is capable of lifting packages up to 40 pounds, according to a blog post by Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering and chief technology officer.
Digit can go up and down stairs, walk through uneven terrain and react to being bumped without losing its balance and falling.
“As humans, we take these abilities for granted, but they become extremely important when engineering a robot to navigate the nuances of various environments,” states Washington.
The walking robot can fold itself up for storage in the back of a vehicle. When the vehicle arrives at its destination, Digit can grab the package from the vehicle and carry out the final step in the delivery process.
Digit is equipped with stereo cameras and location sensors for basic scenarios. If it comes across an unexpected obstacle, it can send an image to the vehicle, where a solution can be configured.
Now Digit has to wait for the arrival of self-driving vehicles that are in the actual business of delivering packages to homes.