As we all know, having lots of cars littering your workplace can be a hazard and a barrier to productivity. Conscious of this, Audi has enlisted some robots to tidy all their spare cars out of the way until they're needed. What's more, the "Ray" robots get on with it without bothering anyone.
The two robots are part of a pilot that started at Audi's Ingolstadt plant in February. The carmaker says it is "testing systems for the intelligent factory of the future" and the Ray robots are contributing to this by independently moving cars from a production area of the factory to a temporary storage area.
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The robots are also able to sort the cars into order based on their shipping destinations. This enables plant workers to then load them onto railway wagons with a minimum of fuss. The company says it is looking at other potential applications for the robots, too.
"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," said board of management member for production Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl. "Systems like this also have the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of our processes."
The Ray robots are produced by Serva Transport Systems and are employed elsewhere as an automated concierge service at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany. The versions in use at Audi have a frame measuring 6 x 3 m (20 x 10 ft) and sensors that determine the position and dimensions of a car. The car is then lifted by its wheels to a height of 10 cm (3.9 in) and moved to a storage space allocated by the system's control software.
The robots can move cars that are up to 5.3 m (17.4 ft) in length. Once there are enough cars for the same destination gathered in the sorting area, the Ray robots move them into place for shipping.