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Ford Teams Up with Agility Robotics to Explore ’The Last 50 Feet’ Problem

Ford Motor and start-up Agility Robotics are partnering in a research project that will test how two-legged robots and self-driving vehicles can work together to solve the curb to door problem when Autonomous Vehicles (AV) are deployed to make deliveries. Agility’s Digit robot is two-legged with a lidar where its head should be allowing it to tackle obstacles such as stairs much better than a wheeled robot could. The idea is that Digit which can carry 40 pounds (around 18 kg), rides along in a self-driving vehicle and then is deployed to deliver a package the last 50 feet (15 m) between the car and the front door of the owner’s home. As the autonomous car and robot are in communication even before they arrive, Digit can more easily and quickly understand where it is and where it needs to go and can even use the AV’s sensors to garner more information about its surroundings if it needs to. For now, this is strictly a research project which both companies are working on. Ford had not taken any sort of equity stake in the start-up which was spun out of Oregon State University in 2015 and has around 20 employees.

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