May 22, 2019 - Technology

Robots help self-driving vehicles make deliveries

In this image, Digit delivers a package on someone's front porch.

Digit, developed by Agility Robotics, works with an AV to complete driverless delivery. Photo: Ford

A self-driving delivery vehicle isn't particularly helpful if it doesn't complete the job. Ford says it's exploring the use of robots to carry packages from an AV to your doorstep.

What's happening: In a blog post on Wednesday, Ford CTO Ken Washington explains the automaker's collaboration with Agility Robotics to figure out how deliveries by self-driving cars will occur in the future.

  • Digit, a 2-legged robot, tightly folds itself up in the back of an AV until it's needed.
  • When the car arrives at its destination, Digit can be deployed to carry a package from the vehicle to the doorstep, going up and down stairs or across uneven terrain.
  • The AV can share data with Digit such as the best pathway to the front door or how to get around an obstacle.

Quick take: For all the promise of AV delivery, the toughest part of the journey could be getting to your doorstep.

Go deeper: The U.S. Postal Service tests autonomous trucks for mail delivery

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