Ford is taking part in trials of a new robot that could be used in both the first and last mile of package delivery.
The automaker has bought two new Digit models, first unveiled in May, from Agility Robotics.
It will test them in applications such as indoor logistics and the last 50 feet of delivery, focusing on how commercial vehicles and Digit communicate wirelessly.
The robot features arms and legs and is designed to be able to walk upright. It can be folded up for easy storage and transported via a commercial vehicle. During a delivery it can feed information from its sensors back to the accompanying vehicle and the cloud to receive additional computing power, for example allowing it to overcome an unexpected obstacle.
Ken Washington, VP of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, and CTO, said: “As online retailing continues growing, we believe robots will help our commercial customers build stronger businesses by making deliveries more efficient and affordable for all of us.”
“We learned a lot this year working with Agility, now we can accelerate our exploratory work with commercial Digit robots.”
Jonathan Hurst, CTO of Agility, said: “We’re excited about the technical capabilities and advanced legged mobility of Digit.
“Videos can show a solid proof of concept – but this robot is ready to go out in the world in the hands of customers, and start to really explore pragmatic use cases.”
Damion Shelton, CEO of Agility, said: “For the first time, a full humanoid robot – with both mobility and manipulation capabilities – will be available for customer applications in a wide variety of industries, both indoor and outdoor. We look forward to showing off our work on both logistics and non-logistics tasks in the coming months.”