This article was published on July 27, 2020

Ford is using Boston Dynamics robots to survey its plant in Michigan

The dog-like robots will create 3D maps of the facility

Ford is using Boston Dynamics robots to survey its plant in Michigan

Ford is unleashing two of Boston Dynamics’ terrifying robot dogs on its factory floors in August.

The quadrupeds — known as Fluffy and Spot — will use their four-camera scanning systems to generate 3D maps of Ford’s Van Dyke manufacturing plant in Michigan. These maps will then be used by engineers to update their original designs of the facility.

“We design and build the plant. After that, over the years, changes are made that rarely get documented,” said Mark Goderis, Ford’s digital engineering manager, in a statement. “Scanning one plant could take two weeks. With Fluffy’s help, we are able to do it in half the time.”

It could also save Ford a lot of money. The company says it previously cost nearly $300,000 to scan a single facility. If the pilot works, Ford envisions the bots scanning all of its plants for a fraction of the cost.

[Read: Benefitting from Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot — a guide for evil companies]

In time, Ford hopes to operate the bots remotely from anywhere in the country. But for now, they need a human operator with a gaming-style device to stay within 50 meters of the bots.

Fluffy’s handler is engineer Paula Wiebelhaus, who was given the responsibility despite having never owned a dog or a video game controller.

“At first, I’m not gonna lie, it was kind of intimidating to be in control of a dog that is this high-tech,” she said. “But he is easy to operate, and he maneuvers well through spaces. He’ll go into some tight areas that Scouter, our other robot, won’t be able to accommodate.”

But that doesn’t mean that Scouter will be heading to the pound. The robots will be working together, with Scouter giving Fluffy rides around the aisles to help preserve its battery for the nooks and crannies.

You can check them out in action in the video below:

While the 70-pound bots may look trained to kill rather than sit, Boston Dynamics promises they won’t be used to “harm or intimidate” people. Nonetheless, their human colleagues are advised to heed the ominous warning slapped across the robots’ muzzles:



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