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Ford's factory robots make coffee and give fist bumps

Ford has taught its factory robots to make coffee

Ford Europe has installed a pair of 'collaborative robots' on its production line in Cologne, Germany, ostensibly to help fit shock absorbers to Fiestas.

But in a video that the company just released, you can see their real purpose - making coffee for the workers.

The robots, which were developed in collaboration with German robotics firm KUKA Roboter, are about a metre tall and equipped with sensors that stop them if they detect obstacles in their path.

That's important, as last year a worker was killed at a Volkswagen production plant by a malfunctioning industrial robot.

Pinpoint Accuracy

Ford says that its new bot is capable of pinpoint accuracy, strength and dexterity, which probably comes in handy when brewing coffee and giving high fives.

"Working overhead with heavy air-powered tools is a tough job that requires strength, stamina, and accuracy. The robot is a real help," said production worker Ngali Bongongo.

The robots are currently installed in just two workstations, but the company says that it's reviewing an extension of the program and may roll them out around the world.

"Robots are helping make tasks easier, safer and quicker, complementing our employees with abilities that open up unlimited worlds of production and design for new Ford models," said Karl Anton, director of vehicle operations, Ford Europe.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.