Ford pilots four-legged robots to help scan plant floors

Ford pilots four-legged robots to assist scan plant flooring

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is testing out a pair of four-legged robots at a transmission plant in suburban Detroit in hopes the expertise will help it extra shortly change over manufacturing amenities to construct new merchandise.

The automaker earlier this yr leased two robots from Boston Dynamics named Fluffy and Spot. The dog-like creatures come geared up with 5 cameras that Ford plans to make use of at its Van Dyke Transmission Plant subsequent month to just about scan your entire facility.

Ford makes use of the scans when it updates its manufacturing websites with new automobiles, engines or different elements to find out what equipment is there and what gadgets have to be up to date or moved.

The automaker sometimes makes use of tripods with lasers that staff would manually stroll round to totally different areas. Ford mentioned the traditional course of takes roughly two weeks and prices $300,000 per facility. Officers say utilizing the robots takes half the time and is a fraction of the fee, though they didn’t reveal specifics.

“Fluffy is a tremendous manufacturing software,” mentioned Paula Wiebelhaus, the robotic’s handler. “Sure, it is attention-grabbing and new, however Fluffy ought to actually be valued for his work and tenacity. He can accomplish that far more than dance and roll over. We need to push him to the boundaries within the manufacturing plant and see what worth he has for the corporate.”

The robots are managed by way of a game-like machine that enables the person to see from the robotic’s perspective. They are often operated from as much as 160 toes away with the out-of-the-box pill software. They will transfer as quick as three mph on a battery lasting almost two hours, Ford says.

They’ve three totally different gaits relying on what surfaces they’re maneuvering over and might crouch, stretch, scale 30-degree inclines and proper themselves in the event that they fall.

The robots have a round base they’ll sit on, nicknamed Scouter, that may transfer across the plant and assist them preserve battery.

Ford isn’t any stranger to robots. The automaker has examined a two-legged robotic, called Digit, to ship packages, and has applied collaborative robots, called “cobots,” to assist manufacturing facility staff across the globe.

It is unclear the place else Ford would possibly deploy the robots following Van Dyke Transmission. The automaker is predicted to alter over its Dearborn Truck and Kansas Metropolis Meeting vegetation within the coming months to construct the brand new F-150 pickup.

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