What’s a robot dog Fluffy you asked? Well, if you’re already familiarized with Boston Dynamics’ work on robot dogs, you’ll be glad to hear the news about Ford Motor Company’s latest 4×4. No, this is not the new Bronco, but a 70 lbs robot dog named Fluffy, who is capable of going where no Bronco has gone before.
Unsurprisingly, the four-legged robot dog Fluffy is developed and built by Boston Dynamics and its main purpose is to create a 3D map of Ford’s Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Fluffy is equipped with five state of the art cameras and it will help the company to update the building’s engineering plans in order to match-up with the plant as it exists today, after it suffered a number of modifications since its original construction.
Ford decided to use two robot dogs instead of humans to map the factory in 3D due to Fluffy’s imaging and laser scanning capabilities. The robotic dogs will produce a highly detailed and accurate map in the least amount of time, so the engineers will be able to retool and modernize the facility in a timely fashion.
According to Ford, using robot dogs will save the company both time and money, as Fluffy is capable of working 24/7, around the clock. Each of the two robots is equipped with laser scanners and 5 high-definition cameras, and is capable of traveling at approximately 3 mph for up to two hours at a time on a single charge.
Ford’s digital engineering manager Mark Goderis estimates that scanning the entire plant with robot dogs would take 7 days instead of 14, which means robot dogs are twice as fast as humans at 3D mapping. Also, Fluffy’s compact foot-print allows it to map areas that would be impossible to navigate by humans.
It’s interesting to mention that a typical factory scanning job (human powered) costs $300,000. The retail cost for a robot dog is $74,500, and that means Ford will do the mapping job at a fraction of the cost using robots instead of humans. By the way, Ford is only leasing Fluffy and Spot for a year.
Image credits: Ford Company