SEAT employed tiny but mighty autonomous robots in its smart factory

As you imagine, car factories are filled with robots. Huge arms are moving car bodies around, welding, assembling and painting. But there are some jobs that robots are only picking up now.

For example, Spanish car manufacturer SEAT recently introduced an autonomous, collaborative mobile robot EffiBOT in its Martorell  factory.

EffiBOT is completely autonomous and doesn’t need to follow any track. It avoids obstacles and can follow people. Image credit: SEAT

EffiBOT was actually developed in France. It is a small car-like autonomous robot, which can perform various different tasks, sometimes eliminating the need to travel. It is constantly watching its surroundings, it can follow a person and does heavy lifting for them. Quite literally, actually – EffiBOT is able to carry up to 250 kg of cargo or pull 500 kg (in a small trailer, for example). The advantage is that EffiBOT does not get injured or tired. And it is definitely significantly more versatile than bigger automated guided vehicles that are also used in factories on the logistics side of things.

Automated guided vehicles are great and definitely still have their place. However, they require a track to function properly. Meanwhile EffiBOT constantly monitors its environment, maps its routes and avoids obstacles. It is more free in the ways that it chooses to go and, therefore, can perform a bigger variety of different tasks. It can drive close to shelves, even where there is no track. Or avoid things that were left on the way.

Probably the best thing about the EffiBOT is that the operator technically doesn’t need to have any controls. User would just tap its touchscreen and EffiBOT would follow. This is very useful as the robot usually is going to perform carrying tasks. Human factory workers will essentially ask for help carrying something heavy and EffiBOT will respond being eager to help.

EffiBOT can carry up to 250 kg or pull up to 500 kg. It helps its human colleagues to deal with the heavy stuff. Image credit: SEAT

Herbert Steiner, SEAT’s Vice-President for Production and Logistics, said: “Autonomous mobile robots place us at the forefront of innovation in the automotive sector. They’re also a clear example of how robots can collaborate with employees to make their work easier. Their incorporation contributes to driving Industry 4.0 and making us more efficient, flexible, agile and competitive.”

EffiBOT is wearing its Industry 4.0 sticker proudly. This is a sign of SEAT’s ongoing efforts to turn Martorell into a smart factory. This site already has around 20 collaborative robots – they work together with human colleagues. Industry 4.0 also includes solutions employing artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain. The desired result is always a more efficient and more effective factory.

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