The Self Driving Robot That’s Making Life Easier For Some Ford Employees

 

With the advent of Digit the delivery robot, it seems more and more like Ford is getting invested in robotics. Perhaps this is a glimpse into the autonomous future that Ford hopes to build. Ford has been adamant about incorporating its tech into projects outside of those with four wheels. Today we’re taking a look at one of those projects, a little robot called Survival.

 

Survival is a self-driving robot that’s changing the way spare parts get around in one of Ford’s manufacturing plants. The robot is named Survival because of the clever way it dodges and evades unforeseen objects, changes its route accordingly, and brakes on a dime anytime there’s something it truly can’t get around.

 

While it is a namesake, Survival isn’t a job description. The robot was entirely developed by Ford engineers and is the first of its kind to be used in one of the company’s facilities.

 

“We programmed it to learn the whole of the plant floor so, together with sensors, it doesn’t need any external guides to navigate,” said Eduardo García Magraner, engineering manager, at Ford’s state-of-the-art body and stamping plant in Valencia, Spain, where Survival is being tested out.

 

Survival changed the way business runs at its plant, and it made it run much smoother. The robot brings spare parts to stations all across the plant, and it saves employees time and energy. Survival isn’t taking any jobs either, in fact the robot frees up time so that people can work on things that can’t be automated.

 

There’s never any confusion about what goes where either, because everything is automated. The shelf on the self-driving robot has 17 slots that all hold different materials of varying sizes and weights, and to avoid errors in delivery the slots open according to which station Survival is currently at.

 

The robot’s been working on trial for close to a year now and according to Magraner, “It’s become quite a valuable team member.” Magraner went on to say that he hopes more robots like this one will be put to work across the Ford workforce to make things easier, faster, and more seamless.

 

Of course this isn’t the only smart robot employed by Ford’s facilities. Robotics are important in the Ford mission of building a better future for everyone. So whether it’s delivery, production, or in the vehicles the company produces robots are changing Ford and the future.

 

Survival uses LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to visualize its surroundings which is the same technology used in Ford’s prototype autonomous vehicles. We hope that this application can help Ford work out every kink in the hardware so that when it comes to consumers it is absolutely perfect!

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