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BMW Is Using One Of Those Creepy Robot Dogs To Sniff Out Problems At Its Plant

  • BMW’s Hams Hall engine plant has a robot sniffer dog created by military contractor Boston Dynamics.
  • SpOTTO is named after one of BMW’s founders, and his son, who invented the four-stroke engine.
  • Electric dog is used to identify if machines are running too hot and find leaks in compressed-air lines.

“He saw the silver needle extended upon the air an inch, pull back, extend, pull back. The growl simmered in the beast and it looked at him. Montag backed up. The Hound took a step from its kennel.”Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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In the dystopian world of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 where books are outlawed, conflicted hero Montag is terrorized by a Mechanical Hound, a robot assassin that can sniff out culture-loving miscreants and neutralize prey with an injection of morphine or procaine delivered through a four-inch (100 mm) hollow steel needle projecting from its snout.

Related: Costly Union Contracts Could Push Automakers Towards Robot Workers

Even though it’s 70-plus years since the story was first published, reading about the hound still gives me the chills. So boy am I grateful that I’m not working at BMW’s Hams Hall engine plant, in the UK, which has just taken on a creepy robot dog of its own to sniff out bad actors of the automotive kind.

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BMW doesn’t mention anything about hollow steel needles, killing rats or hunting down workers who’ve dared to read a book rather than scroll TikTok on their lunch break. But since SpOTTO is the work of Boston Dynamics, the company Hyundai bought for $921 million in 2020, and who builds those terrifying two-legged robotic soldiers for the U.S. military, we’re sure it could be sorted for the facelift.

SpOTTO is named after a pair of Ottos, the first, Gustav Otto, one of the founders of BMW, and second, his son Nicolaus, the inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine. Its kennel is the plant in the English Midlands that makes 400,000 BMW and Mini TwinPower turbo engines each year, and its role is to help keep those engines rolling down the production lines by sniffing out problems.

The robo-hound uses visual, thermal and acoustic sensors to detect overheating machines and compressed-air leaks that might, if left unchecked, lead to a factory shutdown or just general inefficiency.

SpOTTO, which can climb stairs, also collects data for BMW’s digital twin of the Hams Hall site, and there could be more chores for it in future, including reading analog controls, but hopefully not snitching on slacking workers or collecting personal and biometric data, which a modern day version of Bradbury’s mechanical Hound night do.

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#BMW #Creepy #Robot #Dogs #Sniff #Problems #Plant

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