Ford might have out-creeped Boston Dynamics with a 2-legged delivery robot

‘Digit’ waits to deliver a package, Ford
  • Ford released a video of a two-legged delivery robot called “Digit.”
  • Digit is made by startup Agility Robotics, which has partnered with Ford for a research project studying how autonomous vehicles can work together with robots to deliver packages.
  • Digit can lift 40 lbs, and is part of Ford’s plans to launch robotaxis.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ford unveiled what it hopes to be the future for autonomous delivery on Wednesday in the form of a two-legged robot.

Ford is partnering with robotics startup, Agility Robotics, for a research project exploring the potential of partnering autonomous vehicles with package delivering robots.

“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,” Ford CTO Ken Washington wrote in a Medium post.

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In a glossy PR video, Ford showed off the robot, named “Digit.” Agility first unveiled Digit in February, saying the robot can lift 40lbs, and can even catch itself with its arms should it trip over. It folds up into the back of an autonomous vehicle, ready to pop out and deliver the package when it arrives at the right house.

In the video, Digit delivers a care package to a student, and the two share a fist-bump.

You can watch Digit in action here:

The cooperation between Digit and the autonomous van doesn’t end with the vehicle dropping off the robot. “When a self-driving vehicle brings Digit to its final destination, the vehicle can wirelessly deliver all the information it needs, including the best pathway to the front door,” Washington wrote.

Digit itself is equipped with Lidar and stereo cameras, which he says allows it to navigate “basic scenarios.”

Washington also told TechCrunch that bipedal robots have certain advantages over wheeled robots, as they are able to navigate stairs and cracks in the pavement more easily.

It’s not clear exactly when or how Digit might become a commercial part of Ford’s robotaxi plans, but Agility said in its February press release that deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2020.

Agility Robotics CEO Damion Shelton also told TechCrunch that the company will produce six of this current version of Digit, and then estimates it will get up to producing two per month with a goal of making somewhere between 50 and 100 by 2021.