Developed and built by Agility Robotics, Digit is said answer the question of how to get packages from autonomous delivery vans into the hands, or at least the doorstep, of its recipient. It's a more advanced solution than Amazon's miniature delivery trucks, and more versatile than drone drops. The robot is packed with sensors to enable it to make sense of its surroundings, but there is also a two-way communication system between Digit and the driverless delivery vehicle.
By sharing the load between the robot and the vehicle, the robot can be made more lightweight and therefore Digit can function for longer without requiring a recharge. Automakers such as Ford and GM have announced job cuts as they struggle to adapt to the changing economy, which is increasingly focused on AI-powered technologies including self-driving vehicles. Upon arriving at the delivery address, the robot unfolds from inside the vehicle, extending to near-human proportions.
Washington adds that Digit has been created to tightly fold itself up for easy storage in the back of a self-driving vehicle "until it's called into action". Digit can walk up and down stairs and walk naturally on uneven terrain.
As envisioned by Ford, a self-driving vehicle would pull up to a specified house whereupon a robot would climb out of the back, pick up the package in question, and then bring it right to the front door. Ford's self-driving plans are aiming for a 2021 launch. Dr Washington even suggests linking Digit in with other systems for even greater efficiency. A ride-hailing trip could double as a delivery service, dropping off packages in between transporting passengers.
Work is already underway on the second-generation model, and this is expected to see the light of day this summer. These corporations will be able to rely fully on automated vehicles and robots like Digit to deliver items to a precise location, without requiring an employee to maneuver the vehicle and package - saving time, energy and money for the company as a whole.