Ford used to travel around its factories with a camera and tripod to get a full understanding of the space before reorganizations and updates. Now, they’ve rented a couple of robot dogs to do the job.
Named Fluffy and Spot, the dogs are doing a laser scan of the factories. Why? As one of the engineers diplomatically explained, “We design and build the plant. After that, over the years, changes are made that rarely get documented.”
At this point, who knows what shape the facility is really in? Spot and Fluffy will. They are able to get into cramped spaces and to get a better view of the factory floor.
Right now, they rely on a human handler, but Ford expects to see them out on their own soon. They can also collaborate with the larger robot Ford uses to scan the facility, Scouter. Spot can ride on Scouter. When they reach an area that Scouter can’t navigate, Spot can climb down and take over.
Once they’ve gathered the information, Spot and Fluffy will share it with the engineers, who will use it to create an accurate picture of the space. Retooling the plant will be faster, easier, and more accurate.
Spot and Fluffy are also cheaper than the human-powered methods used in the past. They can get the job done in half the time, too.
And the engineers aren’t mourning over the lost task, either. They used to have to stroll around the plant, breaking every few minutes to wait for the lasers to scan. That wait could take up five minutes. It was almost a definition of a boring day.
They also had to walk into unappealing and uncomfortable areas. Not any more. Fluffy is happy to head into spaces that human beings wouldn’t choose to crawl into.
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