The automobile industry is possibly the most automated of all supply chains. Robots have been used in the industry for decades and the robotic technological advancements have been monumental.
The introduction of collaborative robots (cobots) has further launched automation to new heights. They are designed to work alongside humans on the production floor. Cobots take over tasks that are deemed dangerous, tedious and unpalatable by the human workforce.
Robotic development has created a smooth synergy between robots, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and humans. With the help of robots, workers can perform manufacturing tasks with precision and flexibility.
The robotic systems used today are advanced and equipped with sophisticated technology. They include the following:
- Robotic vision
- Exoskeleton Devices
- Automated welding
- Collaborative robots (Cobots)
1. Robotic Vision
Some robots have vision sensors (2D and 3D perception) to enable them to ‘see’ as they work. This helps to enhance the accuracy as well as precision. Industrial robot manufactures have advanced robotic vision using Open Source Computer Vision (OpenCV).
OpenCV provides free software libraries to enable computers to develop vision using real-time imaging. Robotic vision makes robots intelligent as they can perform tasks more adaptively. The software also enables the robot to process the data it sees to perform tasks correctly.
Moreover, it perceives and understands where the different car components are fixed. These include fenders, door panels, and more.
2. Exoskeleton Devices
Some tasks are not performed by industrial arms. These were hitherto performed manually by humans. To lessen weariness on the human hands, workers wear exoskeletons which are wearable robots.
The exoskeleton allows the hand to have more strength and grip. It comes with a wearable mechanical delivery system that is worn on the back like a backpack. The device is fitted with actuators, tendons, sensors, muscles, and simulated nerves. These help to boost manual ability as well as significantly lessen fatigue.
3. Automated Guided Vehicles
These are self-guided vehicles that are created to transport loads and parts along the work floor. They are best utilized in large industrial facilities. They are fitted with software that helps them to find their way around manufacturing and assembly floors.
They have magnetic strips and lasers to assist in movement and other operations. They are designed to lug heavy parts and objects over short to medium distances.
4. Automated Welding
Conventional robotic welding in the automotive industry fell into two categories:
- Arc welding
- Spot welding
Contemporary six-axis robotic welds are designed to perform several welding techniques. These range from laser to whole bodywork solutions.
Collaborative robots work with other robotic systems on assembly lines to keep the line moving. Hence, there is a boost in automation as well as speed on the production line. This in return helps to improve not only quality but also production volume.
5. Collaborative Robots
Cobots have helped to take automotive manufacturing to a whole new level. They are built to work alongside humans in the workplace. Collaborative robots are fitted with sensors that enhance safety making them safe to work with humans.
They can sense the presence of a human or react to touch and adjust their speed to avoid injury. Cobots are relatively easy to program and can be used to assist human workers. They take up repetitive, dirty and dangerous tasks allowing humans to take up more cognitive tasks.
Additionally, they do not require much supervision. They are small; hence do not take up much room, unlike the gigantic industrial robots. Also, they can work nonstop and with precision, therefore, improving both productivity and product quality.
Robots have become increasingly human-friendly. They are no longer the huge, frightening and complicated contraptions that humans could barely decipher. They not only make things easier for human workers but work collaboratively with them on the production floor.
Enabled by AI, today’s automotive robot allows the industry to accomplish a lot more. Moreover, they help to cut down manufacturing costs and give car manufacturers a competitive edge.