In case you’ve missed the memo, BMW built its last V8 engine in Germany in November 2023. However, the eight-cylinder powerhouse is not dead since the large-displacement gasoline mill remains in production in the United Kingdom. It’s built at the Plant Hams Hall in North Warwickshire. Aside from humans and automated machinery, there’s a new “employee” working at the site.

Meet SpOTTO, a robot dog developed by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company in which Hyundai has an 80% controlling stake. Fitted with all sorts of acoustic, thermal, and visual sensors, the four-legged autonomous robot isn’t involved in the engine assembly. Instead, its role is to perform several maintenance tasks. For example, it can monitor the temperature of manufacturing equipment. It can also detect when there’s a leak in the compressed-air lines.

Plant Hams Hall has a digital twin allowing SpOTTO to scan the factory and serve as an autonomous watchdog. The data gathered by the robot dog while it oversees maintenance is then analyzed to improve production planning and boost quality. It’s a busy site considering over 400,000 engines were built there last year by approximately 1,600 people.

Before “hiring” SpOTTO, BMW spent about a year figuring out which activities were best suited for the robot dog. A dedicated team at the UK plant was tasked to identify the type of work the maintenance watchdog can perform. Boston Dynamics’ robot dog has been seamlessly integrated into the day-to-day activities. It can even climb stairs on its own.

Its role could extend since BMW wants to find out whether SpOTTO can read analog operating controls. In addition, the robot dog is currently under trial to see how it moves in sections of the plant that are harder to reach.

While Boston Dynamics calls it Spot, the BMW Plant Hams Hall renamed it SpOTTO as a nod to Gustav Otto, one of the founders of BMW. He was also the son of Nicolaus Otto who invented the four-stroke combustion engine. The German luxury brand is testing robot dogs at other factories across the world.

Source: BMW