Unique 3D-printed dog paws have been developed by engineers to assess the durability of future cars.

The RoboYogi has been produced by Jaguar Land Rover with the help of Yogi the Labrador.

It’s used to test the rear bumper’s of the new Defender to test its ability to withstand a dog’s claws scraping the paint before and after a walk.

The results show the paint is tough enough to withstand more than a decade of use by dogs.

Yogi the Labrador, a resident at the National Guide Dog Breeding Centre, was tasked with jumping in and out of the Defender’s 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 5000 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 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 of other models.

RoboYogi 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.”

The 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.

The company 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.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.