Audi uses autonomous drones to increase efficiency at the Neckarsulm facility in Germany. The new unmanned aircraft will be used to save time and to make the dispatch process more efficient and easier.
Audi uses autonomous drones to increase efficiency at Neckarsulm facility
The Neckarsulm facility produces the Audi A4, A5 convertible, A6, A7, A8, and the sporty R8. The daily dispatch process was quite complex at this location, but now Audi employees use the autonomous drone to scan and identify vehicles at the massive parking lot.
“The fast locating of the vehicles creates even higher process quality and is a further stepping stone on the path to digital production. The drone provides support from a completely new perspective. We will now share our experiences with other Audi sites and within the VW Group,” explained Steffen Conrad, project manager in the area of Innovation Management at the Audi site in Neckarsulm.
The specially developedhexacopter, a drone with six propellers, flies over the vehicle dispatch areas on predefined routes at a height of around ten meters (32.8 ft) and determines the exact position of the cars parked there. The drone uses an RFID reader to read out every vehicle while flying directly over the dispatch area and saves the GPS position identified. As soon as the flying device has landed, the data is transmitted to a database via Wi-Fi automatically. After the flight, the result is then displayed on a digital map for the employees.
The drone takes off, flies, and lands in a completely autonomous manner. The trained Audi employees start and monitor the flight from a laptop or tablet. In the event of an emergency, they can use a remote control to intervene in the otherwise fully automatic operation. Four employees have already been trained on how to use industrial drones. As part of this training, they also obtained what is known as a “drone license.”
Before each flight, the drone receives the weather conditions around the plant premises in Neckarsulm automatically. If the wind is too strong or gusty or there is too much rainfall, the drone will not take off. In addition, the software checks the drone’s battery level and battery temperature before each flight. Should something not fall within the specified safety parameters, it will remain on the ground.
The pilot project is currently being transferred to permanent series testing, as part of which the experts at the Neckarsulm site will gather further experience. It is conceivable that drones will be used to locate vehicles at other Audi sites as well in the future.
Steffen Conrad, project manager in the innovation management area monitors the drone, which autonomously flies over the shipping areas at Audi’s Neckarsulm site.
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Photo credits: Audi AG