The robot, named Digit, is built of lightweight material and can lift packages that weigh up to 40 pounds, according to a Ford press release. It can navigate stairs and uneven ground and can even keep its balance if it's bumped.
"As humans, we take these abilities for granted, but they become extremely important when engineering a robot to navigate the nuances of various environments," Ken Washington, Ford vice president for research and advanced engineering and chief technology officer, said.
The machine arrives in a self-driving car, unfolds itself to deliver a package to a door, then folds back up when it docks with the car.
"Gaining access to a customer's door often requires walking through obstacles, including going up stairs and dealing with other challenges," Washington said.
“Digit has been designed to walk upright without wasting energy, so it has no issue traversing the same types of environments most people do every day.”
The robot can also sync up with the driverless car's system, when necessary, to get additional information if it becomes confused, Ford said.
It’s unclear if or when Ford plans to start a commercial delivery service with Digit, but it is competing with tech giants like Amazon, Google and Tesla when it comes to artificial intelligence-powered technologies.
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