In a pilot test at the Audi plant in Ingolstadt that started in February, two robots independently transport cars from production to an interim storage area. From there, they later place the sorted Audi models into position according to their shipping destinations, so that logistics employees can load them onto railway wagons.
The robots (named “Ray”) came from Serva Transport Systems, which earned a nomination for the German Founder Award in 2013. Serva markets the system for use in parking.
Ray is freely movable and highly flexible. It consists of a frame six meters long and three meters wide which uses sensors to determine the position and dimensions of a car, and it then adjusts to it.
|Ray at work. Click to enlarge.|
The robot then carefully grips the wheels and lifts the car up to ten centimeters. Control software allocates a space where Ray then parks the car. In this way, automobiles up to 5.3 meters long can be quickly moved and temporarily stored in a space-saving manner. As soon as a sufficient number of cars are available on the sorting level for a certain destination, the robot moves them into place for shipment.
Audi is now preparing the first industrial application of the robots; the company is also examining additional areas of application.
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. Systems like this also have the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of our processes.—Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, Board of Management Member for Production at Audi AG