The past ten years could be called the online shopping revolution. In just 2018 alone, the U.S. Postal Service alone delivered more than 6 billion packages: double that it was handling a decade ago.


This might seem great, “Business is booming, people are spending money!” You’re right, it is great, but it also puts a ton of pressure on delivery systems. But, in an effort to help Ford has teamed up with Agility Robotics based in Albany OR. Agility Robitics specializes in, well, robotics. The two companies believe that they can change the way we make deliveries, and that it all starts with changing the way we think about autonomy.


For some time now we’ve seen self driving vehicles as the perfect way to ease some of the pressure on the mail industry, but of course there is one problem: vehicles can’t bring packages right up to the door. Enter Digit, the two-legged robot designed and built by Agility Robotics to change the way we get our packages.


Digit doesn’t just look like a human, it walks like one too. The lightweight material used to make Digit gives it a very mobile and agile aptitude, but don’t let “lightweight” make you think it can’t lift packages. Digit is pretty strong and can lift up to 40 pounds.


Digit is the ultimate delivery robot because it doesn’t just go up and down stairs, it can walk naturally across any typical uneven terrain, and it can even compensate for being for being bumped into. These skills are treasured in a robot, but often taken for granted in humans. We don’t think about it when something’s in our way, we just go around it, but for Digit there’s more to it than that and it’s amazing!


If Digit runs into an obstacle that it doesn’t know how to navigate it sends the information back to the delivery vehicle which in turn maps out a solution. You see what’s key about Digit is that it works like a partner to the delivery vehicle. The two work together to accomplish the goal of safe delivery.


Digit is a completely new platform and what really makes it standout is the form factor. Digit folds up in the back of the vehicle as to not take up any unnecessary space, and once the team arrives at the delivery location Digit unfolds and climbs out of the vehicle with the package in hand.  


Ford and Agility Robotics hope to push Digit further and fully understand how this delivery method can be best taken advantage of in the future. Hopefully this new team can achieve a goal that takes some pressure off our stressed delivery drivers!

Categories: News
Tags: robots