Nissan is working on an ‘intelligent factory‘ where smart robots will do all the work normally performed by human workers.
The plant located in Tochigi, a Japanese prefecture north of Tokyo, is scheduled to be up and running sometime before April 2022, and will have robots welding, mounting and painting next-gen vehicles and then re-assessing their task once it’s done.
“Up to now, people had to make production adjustments through experience, but now robots with artificial intelligence, analyzing collected data, are able to do it,” says Nissan Executive Vice President Hideyuki Sakamoto.
“The technology has developed to that level,” said Sakamoto in a statement while touring the production line for the Ariya sport-utility vehicle at the Tochigi plant.
According to Nissan, the factory’s assembly line is designed so that all three types of models – electric; e-Power, which has both a motor and an engine, and those powered by regular combustion engine – can be built on the same line.
Each vehicle is equipped with the right powertrain as it moves along the line. This helps ensure that workers at the factory can focus more on skilled work such as analyzing data collected by the robots, and on maintaining the equipment.
During the Tochigi tour, giant mechanical arms equipped with large displays shone light from the displays on to the car’s surfaces from various angles so that cameras could detect the tiniest flaws.
Also noticed was a mechanism that quickly wounds wires around a metal object that look like a giant spool – a motor part that Nissan is using to replace magnets now used in electric vehicles.
It says this could help the carmaker eliminate the need for rare earth materials and cut production costs too.
According to Nissan, the innovations tested in Tochigi will be later rolled out at its other global plants, including French alliance partner Renault’s factories.
Image and content: AP Photo-Yuri Kageyama/The Associated Press