Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Ford thinks robots and self-driving cars could team up to deliver packages

A robot delivering a package to a door
A robot delivering a package to a doorFord

Autonomous vehicles and robots could share sensor data to help them better navigate the world around them.

The news: Ford is going to test a legged robot that unfolds from the back of an autonomous car to bring parcels to people’s doors. It’s teamed up with Agility Robotics, using its “Digit” robot to try out the idea. One day, a driverless taxi trip could double as a delivery service, dropping packages off between rides, Ford’s CTO suggested in a blog post.

Digit: Ford says the robot can carry packages up to 40 pounds, walk up and down stairs, work around obstacles, and regain its balance if it’s bumped. Bipedal robots have some advantages over wheeled ones: they can deal with obstacles and stairs more easily. However, they’re slower and less stable. Could Digit get up again if it was pushed over, for example?

A crowded market: The boom in home deliveries means companies are scrambling to find quicker, cheaper ways to get goods to your front door. Amazon and FedEx are working on their own pilots, and several smaller players have launched deliveries on college campuses.

A compelling combination: The combination of driverless car and robot is compelling, especially because the two could share camera and lidar sensor data to help each understand their surroundings. The robot could also charge in the car, helping to reduce the need for lots of bulky batteries.

However, we’re still many, many years away from this concept becoming a reality. Ford’s own CEO recently admitted that driverless cars are still years off, and there are still plenty of technical barriers to overcome before we ever see the robot-car duo launched in the wild.

Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Why Meta’s latest large language model survived only three days online

Galactica was supposed to help scientists. Instead, it mindlessly spat out biased and incorrect nonsense.

DeepMind’s game-playing AI has beaten a 50-year-old record in computer science

The new version of AlphaZero discovered a faster way to do matrix multiplication, a core problem in computing that affects thousands of everyday computer tasks.

Google’s new AI can hear a snippet of song—and then keep on playing

The technique, called AudioLM, generates naturalistic sounds without the need for human annotation.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.