Lockheed Martin is hoping to invest in a four-legged companion named Spot in its Missiles and Fire Control center in Grand Prairie.  

But Spot isn’t like other dogs. 

For one, it isn’t a dog at all. Rather, Spot is a more than $70,000 robot developed by tech company Boston Dynamics. 

Lockheed Martin wants to use the robot to increase worker efficiency by delivering tools. He won’t be delivering the morning paper. Rather, Spot will reduce the time machinists and technicians spend walking the floor of the factory. The robot also will conduct routine inspections.

The company held a demonstration at Lockheed’s Grand Prairie location in August to understand how the robot worked and how the company could use the machine, Lockheed manufacturing engineering manager Zack Tarter said in a video statement. 

In the video, he also said the robot was received well by employees – it’s non-threatening and demonstrated a collaborative nature. Tarter was not available for an interview with the Fort Worth Report. 

“Think of Spot like any other technology you’d want to introduce,” Tarter said. “We’re bringing Spot in to understand its capabilities, and we want to maximize those capabilities on our shop floor.” 

The robot can carry tools, capture data and inspect gauge levels for gas tanks, fire extinguishers, metal chip bins and valve positions, Tarter said. The company is looking into programming the robot to predict when tools may wear out.

Several other companies have adopted the robot. Oil company BP, for example, uses the robot on its rigs to conduct tasks such as reading gauges, detect methane leaks and map out the rig.  

Tarter said in a statement that Lockheed is adding automation all the time.

A 2019 study from Oxford Economics predicts robots will replace more than 20 million jobs by 2030. 

Spot isn’t replacing any jobs at Lockheed. Right now, Tarter said, the four-legged robot will be used only at the Grand Prairie location and will be up and running before the end of the year. Lockheed managers are evaluating other ways it could be used.

“We’re always searching for ways to make our employees’ jobs easier,” Tarter said. “So we want to make sure they have the right tools and information to perform their daily tasks.” 

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.

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Seth Bodine

Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....