Ford describes Javier as an “innovative robot on wheels” built by German manufacturer KUKA. Although the company’s announcement today was rather light on specific details, Ford says that thanks to Javier’s feedback, the company was able to fine-tune accuracy to reduce errors. Although Javier is a mobile autonomous robot, he does not use vision from a camera to see. On the contrary, Ford says it has created new positioning-related processes and filed patents for them.
That’s not the only new technology Ford has developed to make Javier its resident 3D printer. The company also said it has created an app interface that allows the robot to communicate with the printer so it can know when jobs are complete and queue up new objects to print. Normally Ford says that Javier and the printer could not communicate with each other because they are from different vendors (the printer as you can see in the pictures is made by Carbon) but with this interface he has developed , the two machines are able to “talk” to each other. Ford has also filed patents related to these communication processes and interfaces.
Javier uses the 3D printer to make custom parts when needed for niche vehicles. Of course, Javier can’t do it all on his own, as Ford says he still needs human operators to upload designs to the printer and maintain the robot and its printing companion. These engineers will also be tasked with creating new ways to use this technology, and Ford’s director of global manufacturing technology development, Jason Ryska, sees a future where these communication technologies are also applied to the assembly line.