The walking robot that assists driverless delivery vans

  • The walking robot that assists driverless delivery vans

The walking robot that assists driverless delivery vans

The idea is that when a self-driving pod or taxi finds itself without passengers, it can serve as a delivery vehicle. That's where Ford's partnership with Digit - a bipedal robot from Agility Robotics - comes in handy.

An undated handout image of Digit, a two-legged walking robot that can lift packages that weigh up to 40 pounds.

If Digit encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will send an SOS to the vehicle so that a navigation solution can be found.

By operating in this way, Digit is kept smaller and lighter than it would otherwise have been, and also more efficient.

Once at the delivery address is where the challenge comes in.

"Together, we will work toward making sure self-driving vehicles are uniquely outfitted to accomplish something that's proven surprisingly hard to do: Carry out that final step of getting your delivery from the auto to your door", the automaker says. The driverless vehicle does the hard work of navigating the streets of towns and cities, the robot does the heavy lifting and finishes off the job.

So it may not be long until a Ford robot walks up to your door and rings your doorbell. Ford's own CEO recently admitted that driverless cars are still years off, and there are still plenty of technical barriers to overcome before we ever see the robot-car duo launched in the wild. Dr Washington even suggests linking Digit in with other systems for even greater efficiency. These corporations will be able to rely fully on automated vehicles and robots like Digit to deliver items to a precise location, without requiring an employee to maneuver the vehicle and package - saving time, energy and money for the company as a whole.