5G enables 'unplugged' robot action in Audi’s production lab

February 18, 2020 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
5G enables unplugged robot action in Audi’s production lab
Audi is taking the next step towards using 5G mobile radio technology in production environments: Together with Swedish network supplier Ericsson, the car manufacturer is presenting a pilot project in human-robot interaction. In the first application case shown, the focus is on human safety.

According to many experts in the automotive industry, the use of 5G in production offers many possibilities: In order for wireless production robots and employees to be able to work together smoothly in the future, real-time wireless communication is a prerequisite. 5G is considered more reliable than other wireless technologies in that it allows deterministic response times. In addition, 5G reacts more robustly when the radio cell is heavily used and is therefore particularly suitable for connecting sensors, machines and human-operated terminals. Together with Audi, Ericsson is now presenting another example of 5G being used in automobile production: An industrial robot installs an airbag module in a steering wheel.

In practice, robot cells are already protected by safety sensors. As soon as a human hand breaks through the light curtain of the cell, the robot stops automatically. The high-bandwidth fieldbus communication required for this is made possible by the very low latency time, i.e. an end-to-end delay of approximately one millisecond. The 5G technology now makes such short latencies also possible for wireless connections. "5G connects all points in our production environment, which leads to enormous improvements in flexibility and connectivity, as well as showing what safe cooperation between humans and robots can look like," says Arjen Kreis, Head of Body Shop Automation Technology at Audi’s Neckarsulm plant.

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