Ford’s new robot dogs, Fluffy and Spot, can technically sit and shake, but they’re too busy working for any of that.
Ford is leasing the two Boston Dynamics “dogs” to scan and create 3D imagery of its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Michigan as part of a pilot. Ford uses the scans to redesign the floor layout and prepare for new production projects. It’s usually tedious work for a human with a camera (and costs what Ford says is about $300,000), but this is what the quadruped robodogs were made to do.
The $75,000 bots can crouch, walk on uneven terrain, and climb stairs. Most importantly for Ford, they can tirelessly capture 360-degree views of its facility, and get into tight corners. The bots’ battery can last about two hours before it needs a recharge.
With five cameras attached to each bright yellow body and a human wrangler monitoring the bots, Ford claims it can more efficiently create a digital version of its factory floor. Eventually, the dogs could be programmed to roam around the space remotely. For now, a tablet connected wirelessly to Fluffy and Spot lets a human control their moves and shows the footage the dogs are recording.