Ford is going to “hire” two robots from Boston Dynamics. The four-legged, dog-like walking robots, each weighing around 30kg, will help the company map its manufacturing facilities. Ford plants have undergone many changes since their initial construction, and it is difficult to know if their plans for these plants are in line with reality. The Spot robots, with laser scanning and imaging capabilities, will be able to create highly detailed and accurate maps that Ford engineers can then use to modernize and retool the facility, Tech Crunch report.
There are several advantages to Spot robots that Ford hopes to use by using them instead of humans to map an object. First, they should save a tremendous amount of time as they replace the laborious process of mounting the laser scanner on a tripod at multiple locations throughout the facility. The employee would also have to spend time at each location of the objects, manually capturing the environment. Spot Dogs are constantly roaming and scanning, reducing the actual time to complete a scan by up to 50%.
The robotic dogs are also equipped with five cameras and laser scanners and can operate for up to two hours on the road at around 3 miles per hour. The data they collect can be synthesized to provide a more complete picture. Due to their small size and flexible navigation capabilities, they can map areas of the plant that are not always accessible to people trying to do the same job.
This is a pilot program being carried out by Ford using two Spot robots rented by Boston Dynamics. But, if the collaboration is successful, Ford may use new technologies to increase its production capacity.