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BMW Group Using Boston Dynamics Spot Robot To Scan and Monitor Manufacturing Equipment at Hams Hall in UK

The mechanical robot dog guard. Industrial sensing and remote operation needs

BMW Group Plant Hams Hall in the UK is using one of the four-legged Spot robots developed by Boston Dynamics to scan the plant, support maintenance and ensure production processes run smoothly. Equipped with visual, thermal and acoustic sensors, SpOTTO is deployed in a number of unique use cases: On the one hand, it collects valuable data for the plant’s digital twin; on the other, it serves as a watchdog, overseeing maintenance of production facilities.

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SpOTTO plays a pivotal role in creating and refining the plant’s fully connected digital twin. The digital twin operates on three levels: On the first level, 3D representations of the entire plant are generated. The second level comprises a large data layer into which the autonomous robot dog, production facilities and IT systems at the plant feed all relevant information. On the third level—the application level—dedicated programs sort the data collected into comprehensible and traceable units.

It is the combination of these three levels that makes the fully connected digital twin unique. Using apps, experts at Plant Hams Hall can now evaluate and utilize this data. Application examples include quality assurance and production planning.

With its visual, thermal and acoustic sensors, SpOTTO is able to perform numerous maintenance tasks. For instance, it monitors the temperature of manufacturing equipment and immediately recognises if an installation is running too hot—an early sign of potential failure. At BMW Group Plant Hams Hall, SpOTTO also specializes in identifying leaks in the compressed-air lines used in production. Given that compressed air requires a substantial amount of energy, detecting leaks quickly can lower energy consumption.

SpOTTO was created by Boston Dynamics with the product name “Spot.” It is a nimble robot small enough to use indoors, that climbs stairs and traverses rough terrain with ease. “Spot” was renamed SpOTTO at Plant Hams Hall—paying tribute to the heritage of the British engine plant. Gustav Otto was one of the founders of BMW and son of Nicolaus Otto, inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine.

In 2023, more than 400,000 engines were produced at Plant Hams Hall, which, alongside SpOTTO, also employs about 1,600 people. Before SpOTTO’s introduction at the plant, a dedicated team tested which activities the robot dog would be suitable for in a one-year development process. Other potential uses are currently being trialled in the plant’s Technical Basement: These include reading analogue operating controls or performing complex sequences of movements that make the four-legged robot even better at accessing hard-to-reach areas of production. In addition to Hams Hall, other BMW Group plants are also currently testing the use of robotic dogs.

The working environment at Plant Hams Hall is well suited for industrial inspections using a quadruped robot like SpOTTO. The robot can easily take over the completion of numerous, repeatable monitoring tasks so the plant’s maintenance team can focus on maintenance. We are proud of the way the robot has been integrated into the plant.

—Marco da Silva, Head of Spot Product Development at Boston Dynamics

Source from Green Car Congress

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