Engineer’s best friend: How a dog-like robot is helping Ford retool plants


Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robot Fluffy uses lasers to scan the Ford Van Dyke Transmission Plant to help engineers come up with a computer-aided design plan to retool the plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, US. — Ford Motor Company/Handout via Reuters

It runs, walks, and prances, rhythmically tapping its four feet before it sinks down on its haunches and crouches.

Despite its name, Fluffy has no fur. But the bright yellow robot, leased by Ford Motor Co from Boston Dynamics Inc, can fetch pictures and videos of a car factory with its five ‘eyes’ to help engineers design upgrades for workspaces.

With an accurate camera scan, “we can build those pieces within the workstation, and we can see if there’s any interferences or if everything new is going to fit,” said Mark Goderis, Ford’s advanced manufacturing center digital engineering manager.

Fluffy, controlled by an engineer with a handheld device, can travel up to three miles per hour (4.8 kph) for about two hours on its battery.

Fluffy can also ride ‘Scouter’, a small round robot, through a factory to save power, while the two companions gather data. Wherever Scouter cannot glide into, Fluffy can fill in the gaps.

The automaker is testing the robots at its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Michigan. The robots’ scans cost a fraction of the US$300,000 (RM1.27mil) needed for engineers to walk over millions of square feet in a factory to set up cameras on a tripod, Ford said in a statement.

But the new engineers are just helpers, Goderis said.

“Our goal isn't to displace any of the workforce,” he said, but “automating our processes and making the engineers and people that work for our company more efficient and effective in building quality products.”

Boston does not provide lease terms but Fluffy’s robot model, named ‘Spot’, can be purchased for US$74,500 (RM316,394). – Reuters

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Ford , Boston Dynamics

   

Next In Tech News

Exclusive-Mexico's Kavak says new funds make it second-most valuable LatAm startup
Facebook seeks to defend itself after scathing reports
Philippines lower house approves VAT for big tech firms
SoftBank backs Steven Mnuchin's $2.5 billion private equity fund - FT
Facebook wraps up deals with Australia media firms, TV broadcaster SBS not included
Burn in hell: French monks set fire to 5G masts
Airbnb’s Chesky is game to share safety information with rivals
Bitcoin drops below US$40,000 as regulatory drumbeat grows
Yelp, Lyft, Patagonia other US firms oppose Texas abortion law
Salesforce rival Freshworks raises $1.03 billion in U.S. IPO, valued at $10.13 billion

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers