The 2013 Ford Escape is being built with robots that use lasers for eyes and suction cups as hands. The camera-aided robots were first used in Ford's European factories and will now help out at Ford's Louisville, Ky. plant for U.S.-spec Escapes.
The robots use an array of lasers and cameras as eyes, which help them install parts on the vehicle bodies more precisely. Able to recognize the tiniest deviation from factory specifications, the machines can fit door panels, windshields, and fenders more tightly, reducing panel gaps and decreasing wind noise. To install a windshield, a robotic arm applies evenly distributed beads of adhesive on the glass, and uses suction cups to grip and fit the piece in place for a tight fit.
"The ability of the machines to register any difference in each vehicle on the line improves our quality by providing a custom-like build," said Ford engineer Thomas Burns in a release.
In addition to the new hardware on the assembly line, Ford is installing 88 robots in the Louisville plant's paint shop as well. The machines apply paint to the exterior and sealer inside the body more efficiently, reducing energy costs. In total, more than 700 robots assist in the assembly of the new Ford Escape. Though we're probably still a few years away from the robot apocalypse, we wouldn't want to be around 700 laser-eyed robots when they become self-aware.