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Ford Collaborative Robots Help Finish Fiestas in Europe

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Ford collaborative robots
Photo: Ford Motor Company

Welp, this is how it begins: Ford is having robots work together for common goal, which is now the completion of Ford Fiestas at the automaker’s Cologne, Germany, production facility but will almost certainly evolve into the destruction of the human race. Six Ford collaborative robots — cobots, as it were — team up to sand the surface of a Fiesta in just 35 seconds, ensuring a more perfect finish and less stress on line workers.

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“The cobots can feel when more force needs to be applied, just like we can, and they can more easily get to hard-to-reach places, like the center of the roof,” said Dennis Kuhn, senior manufacturing engineer, Paint Shop, Ford of Europe.

Universal Robots is the creator of the UR10 cobot, the best-selling model of its kind in the world and one used in tasks like polishing subwoofers and loudspeakers. At the Paint Shop in Cologne, they set about the task of making Ford Fiestas looking smooth and perfect. When the vehicles are dipped into a bath that provides 10 years of corrosion protection, the cobots remove imperfections and dust for a perfect finish. The work is checked by human employees before the car is sent along for primer.

The cobots have been such a success in Cologne that Ford plans to roll them out to paint shops in Valencia, Spain, and Craiova, Romania. Additional units are being utilized at Cologne to install shock absorbers and spark plugs, and a self-driving robot mockingly named Survival is being used for parts delivery in Valencia.

This is how it begins. The beginning of the end. But, hey, we had a good run. Now it’s the machines’ turn.

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