SINGAPORE – I remember the primary time I saw a Boston Dynamic Spot robot on the web. The four-legged yellow robot looked not unlike a dog and definitely jogged my memory of the “Metalhead” episode from Black Mirror.
Once I see one in real life on the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS), my first thought is to be terrified. My second thought is, “Awww … it’s actually form of cute.” My third thought is, “Wait – is that this robot dog helping construct a automobile?”
It’s a bot!
The HMGICS is an experimental factory situated within the Jurong Innovation District in Singapore. The seven-story, 86,900- square-meter facility boasts greater than 200 robots performing greater than half of the work, producing the Ioniq 5 for the Singapore market and the Ioniq 5 robotaxi for us here in the USA. The Ioniq 6 should come online next 12 months.
Nonetheless, there isn’t a “line” here like in a conventional factory. As an alternative, every part is “cell” based and autonomy rules the day. On my tour I encounter autonomous pallet robots transporting parts and components to numerous cells. They’re smart enough to offer my group the appropriate of way, but it surely’s still just a little unnerving, like I’m walking in the course of the road and never in a sparkling clean factory. Some pallets may even carry a partially assembled automobile from one cell to a different, stopping in the precise place for the assembly robots to do their job.
Here is where I get distracted and stop listening to my guide. As an alternative, I’m watching a robotic arm install a dashboard into an Ioniq 5. There may be a robo-pallet of bolts to the side, and the arm precisely picks one up, moves to the install location, screws it in and goes back for the following bolt. All of it happens in about three seconds. I bet these items never lose their 10-millimeter socket.
Nonetheless, some robots don’t complete the whole task. After the dash is installed, I watch a robot grab a passenger seat and place it into the front of an Ioniq 5. Then the arm swings off to the side, drops off its attachment – or hand because the case could also be – and swaps it for a unique one. It goes on to drop in a windshield wiper motor. Nonetheless, the actual bolting in is left for humans to do.
Humans and robots, working in harmony
Yes, there are some 270 humans that work at HMGICS. Some are engineers working in robotics or AI, but many are helping out within the cells, working with the robots to place cars together. Each employee in a cell has about 40 tasks to do, and I’m fascinated by the wearable seat one gal is wearing as she puts together a door. This lightweight contraption allows her to take a seat wherever she must; pushing around a roller chair not needed. I want this in my very own garage.
I’m also jealous of the smart glasses one other employee is wearing. This wearable tech projects the instructions for a specific task into his sight view, minimizing errors and standardizing the workflow. As someone who always has to refer from a YouTube video to my project and back to the video again, these fancy-pants glasses can be my jam.
Which brings me back to the Spot robot. A gentleman is working underneath a automobile – he wears a support for his arm to assist lift it throughout the repetitive day – and Spot is hanging out next to him. Once the tech finishes a task, Spot comes over and takes an image. It does this by opening what’s clearly presupposed to be its mouth and aiming the embedded camera on the section of labor just finished. Why the camera can’t be the rattling thing’s eyes I don’t know, but I’ve gone back to my initial impression – Spot is creepy as hell.
It’s form of like rocket science
This Spot-checking photo, and photos from the smart glasses, are sent to the factory’s digital twin. Once I inform you that I believe I walked right into a mini NASA mission control once I enter this meta factory, I’m not joking. A gaggle of engineers are surrounded by large screens on three partitions, and everybody has a private screen in front of them. Folks are leaning into their work, delving into spreadsheets and computer graphics that elevate my anxiety with a mere glance.
Scrutinizing photos from the cells is just a small a part of what this control room can do. Not only can engineers see what is occurring in real-time – every part from the timing of robo-pallets to any issues Tony, the upkeep robot, sees on the ground – it will possibly evaluate the efficiency of every cell.
The meta factory breaks all of it down into availability, performance and quality metrics. It knows if each cell has the required parts at the appropriate time and if the tech within the cell is completing tasks on time and accurately. If any of those components are missing, the nerds up here can drill down into the info and discover why.
The digital twin may also run simulations to plan for future production goals. Straight away, the factory only produces 20 cars a day, but Hyundai says it has the capability for 30,000 a 12 months. As a way to effectively quadruple its current output, then, the meta factory can take a look at all of the logistics and determine what number of robots should be deployed and what happens if any single element is modified.
Eat your veggies
There may be more to the HMGICS than simply robots and a space-age data room. Testing of the Ioniq 5 is finished on the rooftop track. Encircling a garden and surrounded by solar panels, the Sky Track is 618 meters long and 28 meters above the bottom. Hyundai says the utmost speed is 83 kilometers per hour, but my driver pushes it a bit quicker and I get just a little queasy going through the banked turns. This is just not what I expected once I agreed to a factory tour.
There are even two hydroponic farms on site. Hyundai says it’s to display that its technology can enable every part from cars to food. Contained in the 5-meter-tall structure within the lobby is a robotic arm that appears very just like what’s constructing the cars upstairs. Here it’s just harvesting leafy green veggies. Currently the yield goes to a tasting room or a neighborhood food bank, however the veggies may also be served at an in-house restaurant set to open next 12 months.
Oh, and also you don’t should be an actual Hyundai customer to benefit from the Sky Track and veggie tasting room. These parts of HMGICS are open to the general public – and free – so long as you will have a reservation. That’s excellent news to the oldsters of Singapore, as vehicles are taxed at over S$95,000 ($71,000 U.S.), putting cars out of reach for a lot of families.
But really, what’s the point of this fancy-pants factory? Hyundai wouldn’t tell me just how much it has spent on the HMGICS, but it surely needs to be within the tens of billions of dollars. For that form of investment, Hyundai is getting closer to its customers, albeit those with loads of money within the bank for taxes, while experimenting with latest manufacturing processes. The corporate hopes to duplicate this factory in other markets, but there are not any hard and fast plans yet. One thing is obviously: that Spot robot will likely be haunting my dreams for weeks to come back.
This Article First Appeared At www.autoblog.com