The final inspection of manufactured goods is a labour intensive activity. The use of human inspectors has a number of potential disadvantages; it can be expensive, the inspection standard applied is subjective and the inspection process can be slow compared with the production process. The use of automatic optical and electronic systems to perform the inspection task is now a growing practice but, in general, such systems have been applied to small components which are accurately presented. Recent advances in vision systems and robot control technology have made possible the installation of an automated paint inspection system at the Austin Rover Group's plant at Cowley, Oxford. The automatic inspection of painted car bodies is a particularly difficult problem, but one which has major benefits. The pass line of the car bodies is ill-determined, the surface to be inspected is of varying surface geometry and only a short time is available to inspect a large surface area. The benefits, however, are due to the consistent standard of inspection which should lead to lower levels of customer complaints and improved process feedback. The Austin Rover Group initiated the development of a system to fulfil this requirement. Three companies collaborated on the project; Austin Rover itself undertook the production line modifications required for body presentation, Sira Ltd developed the inspection cameras and signal processing system and Unimation (Europe) Ltd designed, supplied and programmed the robot system. Sira's development was supported by a grant from the Department of Trade and Industry.