We're seeing a huge and varied collection of robots at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, but one bot has already strutted off the show floor to start its first job. Digit is a bipedal delivery robot built by US company Agility Robotics, and it can now be your personal postman for a modest six-figure sum, according to The Verge (opens in new tab).
We first encountered Digit in May 2019, when it was being promoted as a collaboration between Agile and car manufacturer Ford. It was intended to 'live' inside driverless delivery vehicles, and earn its keep carrying customers' packages the last few yards to their front doors.
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Navigating obstacles like plant pots, broken pavements and garden gnomes could prove a tricky challenge for a bipedal robot, but the idea was for Digit to report back to the delivery truck if it encountered a problem. There, heavy-duty hardware could calculate the best way to handle it, and transmit instructions back to the robot.
Walk this way
Ford is still pressing ahead with this plan, and had ordered two Digit units to continue the project, but Agility says the little bot has potential to be much more than a humble courier,
Agility's CEO Damion Shelton told The Verge that its future career prospects could include warehouse work, or carrying out inspections in controlled environments.
"For example, indoor logistics can look like warehouse/stockroom work, or moving containers of parts in a multi-level cleanroom,” Shelton told The Verge. “Inspection includes both dedicated inspection (as in a railyard or factory) or incidental inspection like monitoring city infrastructure (telephone poles, etc) while performing a delivery task.”
If you'd like a Digit of your own, not only will you need deep pockets, you'll also have to be patient. The first production run will be just six units, and Agility is only expecting to build 20-30 of the bots throughout the whole of 2020.
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