Robots have fascinated humans for years now. We’ve made futuristic movies about them, we’ve advanced our technologies so that one day we might be able to get these large stacks of metal to do everything for us: shop, clean, work and even drive us around.
But there is one company who doesn’t think artificial intelligence is quite that suitable for all their operations and that is Mercedes.
According to Mercedes’ head of production Markus Schaefer, robots cannot handle all the different degrees of individualization, as well as the multiple variants that the company has these days.
By turning to humans for some parts of their activity, Mercedes will eventually save money and protect the world’s future by giving people a place to work.
As it turns out, certain features presented on the new S-Class, such as cooled and heated cupholders or the different kinds of tire valve stem caps, cannot be developed by automotive assembly robots, which is why Mercedes has already started replacing them with humans, who are better suited for this kind of work.
This means that when it comes to vehicle customization processes, robots cannot provide the flexibility and detail-oriented skills that humans possess. While these intelligent machines are extremely apt when it comes to performing repetitive and well defined tasks, they cannot adapt to other variables.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that the German automaker will kick all their robots to the curb. There are still a great number of machines at their assembly plants that contribute with a number of tasks, such as painting, welding and even engine installation.
The company’s biggest plant, located in Sindelfingen, rolls out some 400,000 vehicles per year, processing some 1,500 tons of steel per day, so obviously automation plays a big role in their operations.
Since robots are highly reliable and efficient, that makes them a valuable resource when it comes to streamlined production. However, the lack of versatility of these machines is a problem for the German company, who is now looking to cut the hours need for producing a car from 61 to 30.
Even though robots will not fully vanish from the Mercedes manufacturing plant, they will eventually have a reduced size and function alongside human workers in order to improve their responsiveness.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, there are about 1.3 million industrial robots which will start operating within the next two years.
Image Source: Mashable