Ford Motor Co. has leased two quadruped robots from Boston Dynamics that will scan, measure, map and document its Van Dyck Transmission Plant located in Sterling Heights, Michigan, as the automaker plans to retool the factory in the near future.

Ford engineers explained that the current CAD and engineering models of the plant were obsolescent after years of facility changes that went undocumentated. The robots are a much more efficient means to map the facility, which via traditional technologies could cost $300,000 and take two weeks.

These yellow and highly agile robots weigh 70 lb, feature five cameras for 360° scanning and last two hours on a typical charge. Due to their four-legged design, they are able to climb stairs and obstacles, and can also crouch or stretch to scan hard to see areas. If the robots fall, they can self-right. Due to their agility and size, these robots are often likened to dogs.

The robots are Boston Dynamics' Spot models, and the two that will be working at the transmission plant are named Spot and Fluffy. They will be controlled by a nearby operator with a remote control, although Boston Dynamics eventually plans for fully autonomous operation.

Although the robots are stable, they certainly are not fast — capable of just 3 mph. However, Spot and Fluffy can traverse long distances more quickly and conserve battery power by riding on an automated guided vehicle named Scouter. Scouter can scan and capture data as it crosses the halls of the factory, then deploy Spot or Fluffy when Scouter reaches its destination or an obstacle.

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