The automaker is using a robot "dog' built by Boston Dynamics to help update its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich.
“Fluffy” has been equipped with a four-camera scanning device that will create a 3D map of the facility and all of its equipment, to help engineers when they need to redesign it to build new products.
The 70-pound quadruped can climb stairs and fit into tight spots that a wheeled platform could not reach.
Ford digital engineering manager Mark Goderis said the process usually requires a human to move a tripod around, then wait five minutes at each spot for the scan to be completed.
Fluffy is capable of walking around for two hours at a time at up to 3 mph, and can crouch or stretch to give the cameras a better view, all while under the control of a remote operator.
Goderis said a typical scanning job can take up to two weeks at a cost of $300,000, but that Fluffy will help cut that in half at a fraction of the cost, not revealing exactly how much that is.
Boston Dynamics sells the devices for $74,500, which is around the same price as a Ford Mustang GT500, but Ford is leasing Fluffy and a second unit nicknamed “Spot” for a year.
According to the latest UAW contract, Ford is investing $400 million in the factory to build new transmissions, transaxles and electric motors.