Ford has announced it has leased a pair of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robotic dogs.
Ford is using the robots to help it 3D-map its Van Dyke Transmission Plant. “By having the robots scan our facility, we can see what it actually looks like now and build a new engineering model. That digital model is then used when we need to retool the plant for new products,” said Mark Goderis, Ford’s digital engineering manager. The automaker named one of them Fluffy. The other is keeping its Spot moniker assigned to it by Boston Dynamics.The dogs are used to capture 360-degree images of areas in the plant that are difficult to get to using a traditional 3D camera on a tripod. They’re equipped with five cameras and can navigate stairs and kneel down to get into hard-to-reach places. Their four legs allow the robots to walk, doglike, around the plant at speeds of up to 3 mph—so they’re not exactly zippy. The battery lasts for two hours.