Self-Driving Delivery Van Features Humanoid Robot

Ford partnered with Agility Robotics in hopes of literally resolving the final steps of the parcel delivery process: from the vehicle to the front door.

Ford has partnered with Agility Robotics to put a humanoid robot, Digit, into self-driving vehicles to create what they call the "future of self-driving vehicle delivery."

Digit is a bipedal robot that was designed and developed by Agility Robotics. As part of the collaboration, Digit would carry out the final step of delivery: from the car to the door. 

Agility Robotics designed Digit to look human. It walks like a human, and can navigate stairs as well as uneven terrain — it can even bump into a fellow pedestrian without falling over. 

As part of the collaboration, Digit deploys out of the back of a self-driving Ford — the new promo shows it unfolding out of the back of a van. In the video, the lightweight robot, which can lift up to 40 pounds, grabs a package and brings it to a doorstep.

What is interesting is that to keep Digit lightweight, the team left some of the typical navigational tools out of the design. Once it is deployed out of the car, the vehicle creates a detailed map of the surrounding environment and wirelessly sends Digit the best route to the front door.

The robot does have LiDAR and a few stereo cameras to navigate basic situations, however, if and when it finds itself in a sticky situation, it relays an image back to the car, which either solves the problem or sends the info to the cloud to request help from other systems.

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