Watch: 'Dog-bots' patrol smart factory at Wichita State UniversityKevin J. Harrigan | December 30, 2020
In September, Wichita State University announced the creation of the Smart Factory @ Wichita (SF@W), which is a 60,000 sq ft manufacturing cell that features more than 40 robots, robotic programs and cyber applications, 26 AR/VR assets and high-end data visualizations, 10 types of 3D printers, nine reverse engineering machine types, 21 professional engineering software programs and more.
SF@W is in collaboration with Deloitte, a manufacturing and industrial consulting firm. Once opened in 2021, the facility will offer academic and commercial opportunities to research and innovate new manufacturing techniques and analyze existing ones. The factory will be a working model of Industry 4.0 and IIoT technologies, capable of niche prototyping and scale-up manufacturing, for educational purposes.
With the facility currently in the design and construction phase, two Boston Dynamics Spot quadruped robot models have been combing the facility over the past year. Spot models are often compared to dogs, due to their physical stature, agility and utility. These robots feature 14 lb of sensing and measurement equipment, which they use to document, inspect and map worksites, facilities and structures. Spots can be used to create digital twins or maps of environments; remotely read gauges or check for leaks in conduit; perform auditory and thermal analysis; and gas and radiation detection, depending on the equipment outfitted.
Wichita State University is employing the robots to monitor and map its new smart factory, so accurate mappings and a digital twin of the environment can be created, testing new configurations or workflows before being implemented on the floor. SF@W's two Spot robots, named Spot and Rivet, are an integral part to a full Industry 4.0 production unit.
No word on if the Spot and Rivet are from the same litter as the two dog-bots used last summer by Ford Motor Co.