Audi Rolls With Robots

Typically, one of the more manic places in an automotive assembly plant is at the end of the line, when vehicles are driven off the line and to various places, depending on the status of the vehicle (e.g., to a logistics area; to rework; to staging for a test track). Audi is trying something a bit different at a pilot facility in Ingolstadt.

Typically, one of the more manic places in an automotive assembly plant is at the end of the line, when vehicles are driven off the line and to various places, depending on the status of the vehicle (e.g., to a logistics area; to rework; to staging for a test track).

Audi is trying something a bit different at a pilot facility in Ingolstadt.

A

Rather than having workers jump into finished cars, robotic devices are used to move the vehicles from the production line to an interim storage area.

Each robot, which is sourced from Serva Transport Systems, a German company that builds systems for parking and logistics, consists of a metal frame that’s 19.7-ft long and 9.8-ft wide. Sensors on the device determine the position and dimensions of a car—it can handle cars up to 17.4-ft long—then grips the tires and lifts the car some 4 inches.

Then the vehicle is moved, based on information from control software.

The reason for using the robots rather than human drivers?

Answered Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, board of management member for Production at Audi AG, “The autonomous transport of our automobiles could allow us to eliminate long walking distances for our employees and to improve the ergonomics of their work.”

He added, “Systems like this also have the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of our processes.”

Of course, it also means that workers at Ingolstadt have a reduced opportunity to drive a new Audi (chances are good they drive VWs, not the premium brand.)