Automaker Ford has teamed up with a US start-up to create a new delivery robot which it claims can walk like a human.
Called Digit, the robot is designed to tackle the final step of a delivery between a self-driving car and the doorstep. Digit is designed to fold up and fit in the back of a self-driving vehicle until it arrives at the delivery destination.
At this point the robot picks up the package from the vehicle and carries it for the final step, navigating obstacles such as stairs. It can carry packages of up to 40 pounds.
The self-driving vehicle, which is by definition equipped with advanced sensors, can create a detailed map of the surrounding environment and wirelessly provide this information to Digit.
Ford worked with Agility Robotics to create the model.
“Whether we are working side-by-side with robots in our numerous factories around the world or living with them as they help push packages to our door, our primary goal is to ensure they are safe, reliable and capable of working alongside people in intelligent ways,” said Ken Washington, chief technology officer at Ford Motor Company.
“Through our collaboration with Agility, we are striving to determine the best way for our self-driving vehicles to cooperate with Digit and understand how this new delivery method can be taken advantage of in the future.”
In February Ford began trialling a “warehouse on wheels” service in London which will allow last mile deliveries to be more easily offloaded from trucks to bikes. The concept involves vans picking up parcels from depots and then stopping at strategic locations.