Agility Robotics is putting Digit — a two-legged robot that can lift 40-pound packages — on the market. And Ford Motor is the first customer.
Ford, which has been involved in a research project with the robotics startup since last year, said Sunday night ahead of CES 2020 in Las Vegas that it will receive the first two robots off the production line. Ford has been testing how Digit and self-driving vehicles might work together to solve what CTO Ken Washington has called the last-50-feet problem, those final steps from the curb to the door.
Neither company is discussing what Digit costs.
Ford is partnering with startup Agility Robotics to research and test the use of is bipedal Digit robot
Making Digit available for sale is a milestone for Agility, which spun out of Oregon State University's Dynamic Robotics Laboratory in late 2015 with an aim to commercialize research on bipedal locomotion. The company introduced its ostrich-inspired Cassie robot in 2017 as a bipedal research platform. Digit, which added an upper torso, arms, sensors and additional computing power to the Cassie design, was introduced in spring 2019. Since then, Agility has refined the design, including more advanced feet that allow Digit to balance on one foot or carefully navigate obstacles, and new sensors to perceive and map the world for robot navigation.
"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," Washington said in a statement. "We learned a lot this year working with Agility, now we can accelerate our exploratory work with commercial Digit robots."
While Ford is looking at how Digit can help support self-driving cars deliver packages to people, the robot has other applications as well, such as inside warehouses, the company said.