Ford's Robot Doctor Dispenses Kisses, Repairs


  • Ford Robot Doctor Picture

    Ford Robot Doctor Picture

    One of Ford's robot doctors stars in a new video. | April 11, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Ford Motor Co. introduces "robot doctor" Gerd Zech from its Cologne, Germany production plant in a new video.
  • The video shows Zech patting and kissing the robots.
  • Ford is celebrating National Robotics Week.

COLOGNE, Germany — In an oddly touching video that shows the interface between man and machine, Ford introduces one of its robot doctors during National Robotics Week.

"Dr." Gerd Zech, who tends to the assembly-line robots in Ford's Niehl plant in Cologne, Germany, is shown in a new YouTube video. The video shows him patting and kissing one of the robots. The plant builds the Ford Fiesta.

"I've saved over a thousand robot lives," says Zech.

Zech tends to 980 high-tech robots at Ford's production facility here. The robots work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and occasionally get "sick," needing his care.

The company uses two types of robots, the Comau and the Kuka. The Comau is a handling robot that moves parts from one station to another. The handling robot welds points on the chassis. Both help make around 1,600 cars a day.

"A normal day starts with error analysis," says Zech in a statement. "Robots are then disassembled, cleaned and measured. After servicing we reassemble the robots. In emergencies, for example when an assembly line stands still because of a defective robot, we all march out. Then we are the 'production's emergency service.'"

"Every day is a new challenge with new problems to be solved. That's hard, but also what I like the most."

While the Ford robot doctor video is warm and fuzzy, it calls to mind another Big Three robot episode that drew criticism. In 2007, General Motors decided to change an advertisement that had shown an assembly-line robot throwing itself off a bridge after making a mistake. The ad drew the ire of suicide-prevention advocates.

Edmunds says: Robots need love, too.

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