Digit: Ford gives us the future together with Agility Robotics

Ford launched into the drone delivery market by partnering with start-up Agility Robotics by presenting Digit. The company, which has been working in the field of bipedal robotics since 2015, has proposed an innovative solution for home deliveries . From Cassie, the first “exemplar” of the company, Agility Robotics has come to market its robots all over the world.

The robot was made using a very light material, but is capable of lifting packages up to about 20 kg. The AI ​​with which it is equipped makes it capable of recognizing and facing obstacles: going up and down stairs, moving on unstable ground and maintaining balance in the event of a collision. The robot arrives in front of your home in an autonomous car , gets out, takes the package to be delivered and knocks on the door of the house. In fact, it only deals with delivery from the van to the home, and is directly connected to the Ford autonomous vehicle inside which, once the delivery has been made, it automatically repositions itself.

Ford and Agility Robotics: the innovative push

Ford's goal is to forcefully enter the home delivery market. With Agility Robotics, born as a spin-off of Oregon State University, Ford wants to start using Digit to change the way deliveries are made . By exploiting the potential of autonomous driving of Ford vehicles and the delivery capacity of bipedal robots, they want to make the parcel delivery process fully automated.

Digit by Agility Robotics, after making the delivery, is preparing to resume its place inside the self-driving Ford van. Source: Ford
Digit by Agility Robotics, after making the delivery, is preparing to resume its place inside the self-driving Ford van. Source: Ford

“As the pilot projects have shown, it can be time-consuming and logistical for people to manage the recovery of goods for delivery,” said Ken Washington, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. "Winning this challenge means freeing up their time to devote it to other activities that really require their attention."

Digit technology

The body of the robot is equipped with a camera and a Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging), a sensor that uses a remote sensing technique that determines the distance of an object or surface using a laser pulse. The particular design of Digit also makes it capable of folding up and stowing away in the rear part of the vehicle , thus minimizing the clutter when traveling inside the self-driving vehicle. Furthermore, the car, being equipped with more advanced hardware and connected directly to Digit, acts as the second "brain" of the robot, providing greater analysis and calculation capacity.

Ford and Agility Robotics present Digit, the robot that can help you bring your packages to your home efficiently with the help of self-driving vehicles

“A self-driving vehicle can create a detailed map of its surroundings, so why not share this data with Digit instead of having it recreate the same type of information? After all, both Digit and the self-driving car need to know where they are in the world, where they need to go and how to get there. When the vehicle brings Digit to its destination, it can wirelessly provide all the information it needs, including the best route to the entrance. Through this data exchange, Digit can work with the vehicle to geolocate itself and make its delivery, ”said Ken Washington.

At the moment the use of Digit is limited to the scope of deliveries , but it could soon be introduced within industrial realities used for industrial logistics and inspection tasks. When we talk about autonomous robots, however, we inevitably end up thinking about possible military applications. However, Agility Robotics CEO Damion Shelon has assured that he will never sell the technology to weapons customers.

Article by Roberto Guida

The Digit article : Ford delivers the future to us together with Agility Robotics comes from Tech CuE .