Logistics, ICT - Ford Trials Self-Driving Robot
Ford stayed in-house to come up with a purpose-built, self-driving robot to deliver spare parts around its European manufacturing plants.
Developed entirely by Ford engineers, the robot nicknamed "Survival" doesn't replace workers, but can save up to 40 work hours a day by freeing up employees to do more complex tasks. It is designed to make its way around unforeseen objects that might blocks aisles, as well as stop and change its route if necessary, carrying parts to workers on its 17 shelves.
"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 Garcia Magraner, engineering manager at Ford's body and stamping plant in Valencia, Spain. "When it first started you could see employees thinking they were in some kind of sci-fi movie, stopping and staring as it went by. Now they just get on with their jobs knowing the robot is smart enough to work around them."
The robot uses robot uses Ford's LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to "see" its surroundings.