Ford and Agility Robotics unleash a disconcerting robot called Digit

24 May 2019 - autoblog

Ford and Agility Robotics unleash a disconcerting robot called Digit

It's designed to deliver packages, not haunt your dreams

"Digit is a two-legged robot designed and built by Agility Robotics to not only approximate the look of a human, but to walk like one, too." So says a press release from Ford touting the automaker's partnership with the company that builds high-tech robots that unfurl from the back of a van and in the process look a little too much like the droids from the Battle of Naboo.

See what we mean? Keep watching and you'll see that the little blue robots are extremely impressive, but they definitely don't walk like the humans whose jobs they are ultimately designed to replace. They actually walk like the human-impersonating aliens from The Arrival.

Digit is capable of carrying packages weighing as much as 40 pounds and dropping them off at someone's front door, traversing over uneven terrain, climbing and descending stairs, and avoiding obstacles in its path. The data necessary to make this final step of the delivery process would theoretically be shared from a self-driving delivery vehicle. Like, for instance, a Ford Transit Connect van outfitted with all the sensors and software needed for full autonomy.

"A self-driving vehicle is capable of creating a detailed map of the surrounding environment, so why not share that data with Digit instead of having it recreate the same type of information?" writes Dr. Ken Washington, Ford's Chief Technology Officer, in a post on Medium. "After all, both Digit and the self-driving car need to know where they are in the world, where they need to go and how to get there."

There's something about all of this that reminds us of the words of the fictional Dr. Ian Malcolm portrayed by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

Check out the video above for a creepy demonstration of our impending robotic future set to a playful soundtrack, and then read the entire story from Dr. Washington on why all of this is necessary in the first place. Or not. You could always join us in the robot-proof bunkers we're planning to start building later this afternoon. Because, as you may have figured out by the many movie references in this story (we purposely left out any mention of Terminator until now), the gap between science fiction and science fact is narrowing by the day.

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