The Future of Ford Trucks Involves Lots of Robots

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Ford doubles down on robotics with a new $15M University of Michigan partnership.

Robots: you probably feel one of two ways about them. You might envision the cute little helpful metal beings from kids movies, or you have nightmares about Terminator-like robo-humans. However you feel about them, in reality robots serve a very useful role in the automotive industry.

Take the F-150, for example. Even though humans still complete much of the assembly of our beloved trucks, Ford uses robots to complete tedious and precision-intensive tasks like installing the front and rear glass. Robots are also used to inspect final tolerances on each and every F-150 built, completing a job in minutes that would take a human hours.

So, instead of fearing that some sort of War of the Worlds scenario will come to fruition, Ford is embracing our robotic future. The latest sign of that comes from their newly announced partnership with the University of Michigan. U-M is building a brand new, $75 million dollar, state-of-the-art robotics facility at their Ann Arbor, Michigan campus. And to help speed up construction, Ford donated $15 million toward the effort!

That nice little chunk of change nabbed Ford the building’s naming rights and a bit of real estate. The Ford Motor Company Robotics Building will house 100 Blue Oval researchers and engineers, and when it opens in late 2019, the 140,000 square foot building will help accelerate Ford’s development of autonomous vehicles.

In addition to classrooms and lab space, Ford will also have access to U-M’s MCity, which contains simulated urban and suburban environments for testing self-driving vehicles. It’s worth mentioning that this is the only dedicated autonomous vehicle testing facility in the country.

Get ready to embrace the world of robots, my friends. After all, you’re getting ready to have one riding along in your truck bed pretty soon!

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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