Humanoid robots soon in automotive production lines

Humanoid robots soon in automotive production lines

For the first time, humanoid robots are being used in an automobile production plant in the USA. A novelty made possible by the emergence of increasingly sophisticated and intelligent models in recent years.

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The American company Figure announced that it had reached an agreement with the BMW Group to introduce its humanoid robots in a first factory. Figure is a start-up that has caused a stir in recent months with its first model. It is comparable in stature to a human (1.70 m and 60 kg), can move at 4 km/h and carry loads of up to 500 kg and 20 kg. An important detail is that it has movable fingers, rather than pincers like many other humanoid robots, to better manipulate certain objects.

In the context of automobile production, these robots must perform tasks throughout the automobile manufacturing process that are most often considered difficult, laborious, or even dangerous for humans. The idea is that workers will focus more on skills and processes that cannot (yet) be automated, as well as on the safety of the production line. In fact, workers will be responsible for monitoring the proper behavior of these robots.

The integration of these robots will also include machine learning. They must master all their movements and be programmed for each of their tasks. Figure recently demonstrated this when one of its robots learned to use a coffee machine. To do this, he had to observe all of these gestures on video, then reproduce them and correct them so that they were ultimately as precise as possible. In total, this “training” lasted 10 hours.

Figure is expected to initially identify the most useful use cases related to automotive production. Robots will next be deployed at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Ultimately, these robots should enable manufacturers to increase their productivity while reducing their costs.

As a reminder: In the USA, other companies such as Tesla and Boston Dynamics are also working on humanoid robot projects.