Ford was serious about transitioning from car maker to mobility company.
Ford recently announced a partnership with Amazon to deliver packages directly to any Ford or Lincoln vehicle. We thought the idea sounded pretty cool because it would eliminate the risk of a package being damaged or stolen, but now Ford has decided to take deliveries to the next level with an autonomous robot called Digit. Come on Ford, hasn't the Terminator film franchise taught you anything about autonomous robots?
Digit was created via a partnership with Agility Robotics to develop a new, autonomous method for delivering packages. The US Postal Service delivered more than six billion packages in 2018, which was double its volume from just 10 years ago. Ford believes our current infrastructure for delivering packages isn't sustainable, which is why Digit was created.
In an ideal scenario, Digit will ride in an autonomous delivery vehicle (like the Transit Connect pictured above), then get out to handle the final delivery to the front door. Digit was designed to look like a human, though the lack of a head is a bit disconcerting. It's made of lightweight materials and is capable of lifting packages that weigh up to 40 pounds. Ford also says the robot can walk up and down stairs or over uneven terrain and can even be bumped without falling over. It was also important to design Digit with legs rather than wheels because fewer than 1% of US homes are wheelchair accessible according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The robot was also designed to tightly fold up to store easily in the back of a self-driving vehicle. Digit and the self-driving vehicle will also share a brain so the two can collaboratively work to map out the delivery route to the front door using LiDAR and a few stereo cameras. Ford is only testing the robots for now, so it will be a while before we see them delivering packages to our doorsteps.