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Robots will scan every inch of BMW’s next 5 Series for defects

Why do something yourself when there are robots around?

BMW claims to be the first carmaker to use an automated optical-measuring system to generate virtual 3D models for development projects. The system uses robot arms with sensors to scan a car and take precise measurements, which are then used to generate the 3D model. BMW says this technology is being used to develop its next 5 Series sedan.

The optical measuring “cell” includes two robot arms mounted on rails that run parallel to the car being measured. Since the pair of robots can scan both sides of the car simultaneously, BMW says this setup provides optimal efficiency. Each robot is equipped with two sensors that scan parts of the vehicle in patches, which are then digitally stitched together to create a 3D model. The whole process takes a few days, and is fully automated.

Read more: Ford turns shipping containers into a mobile wind tunnel

BMW plans to use optical measuring to detect defects in cars as it transitions new models from development to production. It allows engineers to detect defects in early-build examples of those new models so that adjustments can be made before full-scale production starts. BMW believes the new measuring system will streamline this process by identifying defects quicker. It previously used the technology in toolmaking to measure parts and inspect tools.

The next-generation 5 Series replaces a model that has been on sale since 2011, so it’s about time for a redesign. Expect the new model to offer a range of turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines, plus a first-ever plug-in hybrid version. The M5 performance model will return as well, and BMW may also offer an updated version of the ungainly 5 Series Gran Turismo hatchback.

Look for the new 5 Series at the 2016 Paris Motor Show this fall. It will likely go on sale next year as a 2017 model. More details will be revealed in the coming months.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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