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BMW's robots create 3D models of its cars with insane accuracy

It's able to scan a car with an accuracy of less than 100 micrometers.

This sure as hell beats measuring the whole car by hand.


It's incredibly complicated to build a car. With facilities around the world, most automakers need to ensure everyone is on the same page. BMW is taking a novel approach to this issue, using optical scanners to create accurate 3D models that it can use between the development and production stages.

Two robot arms on rails scan an entire vehicle -- in this case, the all-new, next generation BMW 5 Series -- and create a 3D model of the car that's accurate down to 100 micrometers, which is the average diameter of a human hair. The robot arms capture surfaces measuring 80 cm by 80 cm, and it compiles them into a complete model.

It takes a couple days for the process to complete, but it took much longer before BMW came up with this idea. This scanning is beneficial because it can find deviations early on, and workers are no longer tasked with taking individual measurements and compiling that data. Even better, it can be fully automated so it can take place in off hours.

BMW also uses this technology to measure individual metal components in its Munich toolmaking facility. The company is looking into expanding this technology across all its automobile plants, but for the time being, it's sticking to Germany.