The Ford Motor Company is set to phase out traditional human surveyors for their plants, opting instead to user robot dogs to laser map production plants.
Ford partnered with Boston Dynamics to use one such “dog,” nicknamed Fluffy, to digitally map its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Michigan. Fluffy is equipped with sensors, and is capable of digitally mapping a plant much faster than human surveyors can and at a much cheaper cost.
“Equipped with five cameras, the robots can travel up to 3 mph on a battery lasting nearly two hours and will be used to scan the plant floor and assist engineers in updating the original Computer-Aided Design which is utilized when we’re getting ready to retool our plants,” Ford said.
“We used to use a tripod, and we would walk around the facility stopping at different locations, each time standing around for five minutes waiting for the laser to scan,” Ford’s digital engineering manager Mark Goderis said. “Scanning one plant could take two weeks. With Fluffy’s [the robot dog’s name] help, we are able to do it in half the time.”
Digitally scanning plant could typically cost $300,000. Ford claims the robot dogs can do it for a “fraction of the cost.”