Ford CTO Ken Washington made a big announcement at CES 2020. Speaking to Dan Howley of yahoo! finance, Washington, who won a Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) for Research Leadership in 2012, talked about how Ford is using new tools and techniques to unleash innovation and improve efficiency.
Last spring, Agility Robotics and Ford Motor Company announced a partnership to develop a last-mile logistics solution that combines Ford’s autonomous vehicle technology and Agility’s bipedal robot Digit.
“Earlier this week, Agility Robotics announced that Ford was the first customer of their Digit robot, and we’re buying the first two off the assembly line,” Washington told Howley at CES.
The first-ever commercially sold bipedal robot in history is expected to break the delivery task into two pieces – a longer journey on roads, using a high-capacity vehicle, and a short trip across sidewalks, grass, and stairs from the road to the door – allows the right tool to be used for the job.
“If you’re going to be doing package delivery, and you don’t have a driver, you need some way of delivering the package to the doorstep,” Washngton said. “This bipedal robot solution seemed like a natural thing for us to explore,” he added. “We’re still very early in the exploration phase but it’s an important research project that we believe could open up the opportunity of being a great provider of package delivery services in the autonomous future.”
Does this mean Ford is getting into logistics eventually? Howley asked. “Will I get delivery of my next video game from Ford or whatever else I purchased online?”
Ford has been a fleet leader for a long time, Washington answered. “Part of being in the fleet business includes exploring lots of different options like a robotic solution for the last fifty feet.”