What are Cobots? AI & Manufacturing: Industrial Automation in Tesla’s Gigafactory

The integration of AI and machine learning is gaining a strong competitive edge in manufacturing industries around the world. From cost control to production quality and efficiency, manufacturing teams like Tesla’s are leveraging machine learning to help make informed decisions faster. Read on to understand just how effectively AI is impacting the manufacturing industry.

What are Cobots?

Industrial automation has been building a reputation in the manufacturing industry since the start of the 21st century. Robots have helped manufacturers for years with repetitive, easily programmable, tasks to increase productivity on the assembly line. Now, industrial facilities are well into integrating “cobots” to increase output. Augmented intelligence is used in cobots to assist human employees with manufacturing physical goods, products, and parts. With cobots and humans working together, efficiency and productivity can be maximized.

Cobots assist humans with installing car batteries – Elon Musk and Marques Brownlee’s Tour of the Nevada Gigafactory

Strategies for Using AI in Manufacturing

Building on an already daunting list of problems that manufacturers are facing, including increased competition and changing customer demands, artificial intelligence (AI) can help many businesses find solutions to these challenges. For example, AI has the potential to improve manufacturing processes by uncovering improved procedural designs and addressing data gaps.

Understanding how AI can help make your business more competitive can lead to greater skill sets. In addition, knowing what kind of AI application will accelerate your growth is key to incorporating change and innovation into your operations without burdening your company with unnecessary and complicated tech.

How Does AI Affect Production Lines?

As previously mentioned, production lines are being transformed by AI. As machines and robotics become more common, many manufacturing companies will use intelligent systems to increase efficiency. These systems will help decision-making capabilities and change the workforce from needing well-trained operators to people with problem-solving skills. These abilities are needed to troubleshoot cobots and expedite production.

Cobots vs. Robots

Cobots are different from typical assembly line robots in that cobots can recognize errors and adjust. Similarly to if a human saw something out of the ordinary on the assembly line. Being able to recognize and avoid error reduces risk potential and makes employees’ lives much easier. Concurrently, some argue that these systems will lead to unemployment for operators of production lines and other manufacturing employees.

However, rather than simply replacing an employee, cobots aim to cooperate with humans to make their jobs easier. Therefore, cobots are more likely to create jobs than replace them as these cobots often breakdown or need to be reprogrammed for a certain task.

How Tesla Uses AI

For example, Tesla, one of the most up-and-coming tech and automotive companies, aims to use AI and automation in virtually every aspect of their manufacturing, business, and products. Tesla’s famous manufacturing facility is widely known as the “Gigafactory”.

Tesla Gigafactory 1 – Nevada, U.S.A.

Inside this 5.3 million square foot factory Tesla leverages AI applications, robots named after X-Men, and any piece of tech that will increase productivity, maximizing output. Cobots and humans work together here to build hundreds of thousands of cars from the inside out. Smart carts with spatial awareness transport anything from small parts to entire vehicles everywhere in the factory.

AI Smart Cart with sensor tracking and spatial awareness – Musk’s “favorite dumb robot”.

Doing so avoids assembly line backups if a machine breaks down. In other sections of the modular assembly line, giant arms accurately place thousands of pounds of automotive parts within a margin for error of 0.03mm. Additionally, much AI software is imbedded in Tesla’s revolutionary microchip, used for their self-driving autonomous vehicles. Today, Tesla Gigafactories are appearing across the globe producing massive amounts of cars and lithium batteries through sustainable and efficient means.

Tesla Gigafactory Berlin Under Construction

The Future of AI

Artificial Intelligence is a powerful and relatively inexpensive resource that can be used in future applications. Tesla is only one example of many companies who has grown exponentially thanks to the power of AI. But this technical revolution is far from over. The possibilities of AI are seemingly endless with the only limiting factors being, time, money, and our own creativity. In an upcoming blog, we will explore AI in the transportation industry and further discuss Tesla’s implementations of the AI chips on their self-driving vehicles.

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