Saturday, 27 February 2016

Swapping Robots for Humans

The seemingly unstoppable march of robots replacing humans may have hit a snag: high-end customisable cars. Mercedes says it is replacing many of its production line robots with humans - a reversal of recent trends. That is because its S-Class sedan has a growing array of options like carbon-fibre trim and heated cupholders, which humans are better at dealing with. Head of production Markus Schaefer said: "Robots can’t deal with the degree of individualisation and the many variants that we have today. "We’re saving money and safeguarding our future by employing more people." Schaefer seeks to reduce the time taken to produce a car from 2005’s standard of 61 hours to just 30. To do so, Mercedes is shifting to what it calls “robot farming” - equipping workers with an array of smaller, lighter machines. Traditionally robots would operate behind safety fences in isolation from human workers.