Jaguar Land Rover has developed a unique 3D-printed dog paw to help engineers assess the durability of future cars – with a little help from Yogi the Labrador and the new Land Rover Defender.
The ‘RoboYogi’ paw was used to test the rear bumper’s ability to withstand a dog’s claws scraping the paint before and after dog walks, with results showing it can withstand more than a decade of use by dogs – highlighting how Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles are designed to meet the demands of owners’ lifestyles.
Yogi the Labrador, a resident at the National Guide Dog Breeding Centre, was tasked with jumping in and out of the new Land Rover Defender boot, with every step recorded by pressure mapping technology. The data allowed the team to benchmark this real-world outdoor scenario against ‘RoboYogi’; from how a mid-sized dog clambers in and out, to the pressure applied by the claws and the pads on its feet.
Nine-year-old Yogi’s paw was then used to model and 3D-print a spring-loaded replica, allowing the claws to follow contours and apply pressure evenly across the bumper. Spring-loaded claws also proved a cost-effective solution as they are easily replaceable.
The life-like paw is now used by Jaguar Land Rover to complete a standard 5,000 cycle abrasion test; during which ‘RoboYogi’ scratches the panel at random ten times followed by a linear scratch to one side, before repeating the process.
The new Land Rover Defender proved to be the ideal testbed because of its iconic side-hinged door featuring a flat rear bumper for dogs to climb onto, compared to the more traditional split tailgate or rounded boot opening on other Land Rover models.
The new method was developed collaboratively across Jaguar Land Rover by experts in Materials Engineering team, working with the Additive Manufacturing and Robotic Engineering teams.
Julie Nicholls, Senior Engineer in Materials Engineering at Jaguar Land Rover, explains: “Our performance testing covers plenty of scenarios that our cosmetic parts are exposed to, but sometimes we have to think outside the laboratory to come up with bespoke solutions. Creating globally renowned vehicles means applying a quality mindset at every stage of a product’s lifecycle to ensure we meet the needs of our customers’ lifestyles. In this case we were able to achieve it by getting a dog, printing a paw and using a robot.”
Prioritising the comfort and safety of our furry friends is a well-trodden path for Land Rover, which offers a range of Pet Packs on the Discovery, including a full height luggage partition, a loadspace rubber mat, and loadspace liner tray.
Suzanne Boggan, Dog Care and Welfare Supervisor from the National Guide Dog Breeding Centre, said: “Whether you are the proud owner of a pet dog or – as is the case with our dogs – they play an even more vital working role, we recognise the importance of working with responsible manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover to ensure vehicles are fit to carry animals safely. We were delighted Yogi could lend a paw to the engineers – we hope it will help more design teams make future models easier for our canine companions to get in and out of.”
The Jaguar Land Rover Additive Manufacturing Centre produces more than 80,000 parts a year for a variety of applications, including functional prototyping, design mock-ups and manufacturing assembly aids and fixtures. Jaguar Land Rover is also able to 3D print parts for production cars with the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 – the most extreme performance Jaguar ever – one of the first to use them.