While online commerce is becoming more popular around the world, logistics for order delivery has become more complex.
Customers want to be delivered as quickly as possible and on their doorsteps in most cases. Amazon has built a share of its success on this type of express delivery.
In the United States, the e-tailer has even planned to generalize to all its premium customers the delivery in one business day. To keep this kind of commitment, one of the ways is robotics. And in this area, Ford offers a new concept.
The automaker worked with Agility Robotics to create a fully automated delivery system that can handle the transportation of merchandise and its delivery to the customer’s front door.
For this, Ford relies on an autonomous car and a humanoid robot named Digit. The Digit robot can lift packages weighing up to 18 kg, walk on rough terrain, up and down stairs, and keep its balance if it is jostled.
The robot unfolds way droids from Star Wars
The other originality of the robot is that it can fold on itself to take the least possible space in the delivery vehicle. Arrived at destination, a robotic arm extracts it from the trunk while unfolding its legs. A cinematic reminiscent of scenes from Star Wars where we see battle droids deployed by hundreds of military vessels.
To create such a lightweight, agile and autonomous robot, Ford and Agility Robotics had an original and relevant idea. Digit is equipped with the bare minimum to navigate, namely a Lidar and stereoscopic cameras. To trace his route, he relies on the data that the autonomous car has collected to map its environment.
This exchange of information is done in real time by wireless link. And if the robot encounters an unexpected obstacle on its way, it sends the image to the vehicle’s on-board system that will determine a new route. As a result, the robot remains relatively simple and light in its design, which makes it robust and ensures a better battery life. A very interesting track that could well inspire other actors … Amazon maybe?