Electric cars will change the way industrial robots are used in manufacturing, says Fanuc boss

fanuc flow drilling robot

With Volvo’s decision to go all electric in its future vehicles, combined with the French government’s decision to ban sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and similar moves in Germany, the automotive industry is preparing for a tectonic shift in the manufacturing landscape. 

The way electric cars are made already differ considerably now, and new techniques will take the production of the new vehicles further away from traditional methods.

An interesting insight into the future was offered by a senior executive at the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer, who suggested that electric cars are highly likely to fundamentally change the way industrial robots are used.  Continue reading Electric cars will change the way industrial robots are used in manufacturing, says Fanuc boss

General Motors produces new fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles

Chevrolet Bolt EV autonomous test vehicles are assembled at GM
Chevrolet Bolt EV autonomous test vehicles are assembled at General Motors Orion Assembly in Orion Township, Michigan. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

Company claims to be the first company to use mass-production methods for autonomous and electric vehicles

General Motors says it has completed production of 130 Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles equipped with its next generation of self-driving technology at its Orion Assembly Plant located in Orion Township, Michigan.

The vehicles will join the more than 50 current-generation self-driving Bolt EVs already deployed in testing fleets in San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; and metro Detroit.

GM CEO Mary Barra says: “This production milestone brings us one step closer to making our vision of personal mobility a reality.

“Expansion of our real-world test fleet will help ensure that our self-driving vehicles meet the same strict standards for safety and quality that we build into all of our vehicles.”  Continue reading General Motors produces new fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles

US government set to change driverless vehicle regulations under pressure from automakers

Audi-Autonomous-Vehicle

US President Donald Trump is set to announce “within the next few months” new regulations that will eliminate the barriers to autonomous cars on the roads, according to a report on Reuters

The current transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, acknowledged that automakers have been calling for rule changes which will give them more freedom to test and develop autonomous cars.

Chao says: “The pressure is mounting for the federal government to do something. We don’t want rules that impede future technological advances.”  Continue reading US government set to change driverless vehicle regulations under pressure from automakers

General Motors names Kuka Systems its supplier of the year

kuka robot at hannover messe

Kuka Systems recognized by General Motors as 2016 Supplier of the Year winner for powertrain and body shop equipment

Kuka Systems was named a “General Motors Supplier of the Year for Powertrain and Body Shop Equipment” by GM during its 25th annual Supplier of the Year awards ceremony held recently in Orlando, Florida.

GM recognized 118 of its best suppliers from 15 countries that have consistently exceeded GM’s expectations, created outstanding value or brought new innovations to the company.

The announcement represented the most suppliers GM has recognized since debuting the Supplier of the Year event in 1992. This is the second time Kuka Systems has received the award.  Continue reading General Motors names Kuka Systems its supplier of the year

General Motors and Honda to jointly develop hydrogen fuel cell for autonomous vehicles

gm honda hydrogen fuel cell
From left: General Motors executive vice president global product development Mark Reuss, Michigan Lt Governor Brian Calley and Honda CEO North American region and president Honda North America Toshiaki Mikoshiba agree a manufacturing joint venture to mass produce a hydrogen fuel cell system. Picture credit: GM / John Martin

By Naomi Tajitsu and Paul Lienert, Reuters

Honda and General Motors will jointly produce pollution-free hydrogen fuel cell power systems in the United States from around 2020, despite President Donald Trump’s promises to dismantle US environmental regulations intended to spur green car demand.

At a briefing in Detroit, GM executive Mark Reuss said the fuel cells could be used in autonomous vehicles, as well by ride-sharing companies, such as GM affiliate Lyft. He also said fuel cells could have aerospace and military applications.

The companies on Monday said they will invest $85 million to add a production line at a GM battery plant in Brownstown, Michigan, and create 100 jobs. The fuel cell production line will be partly automated and is designed to be quickly scaled up if demand warrants. Continue reading General Motors and Honda to jointly develop hydrogen fuel cell for autonomous vehicles

US President Donald Trump pressures automakers to increase production in the US

Donald Trump and Mary Barra
Trump pulls out a chair for GM CEO Mary Barra as he hosts a meeting with US auto industry CEOs at the White House, on January 24, 2017. Reuters / Kevin Lamarque

By David Shepardson and Roberta Rampton, Reuters

US President Donald Trump pushed the chief executives of General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler to increase production in the United States and boost American employment.

Trump opened a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Mark Fields and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at the White House by saying he wants to see new auto plants built in the United States.

The new Republican president vowed to cut regulations and taxes to make it more attractive for businesses to operate in the United States. He promised frequently during his election campaign to be a job-creating president and stressed that message in his inaugural speech last Friday.  Continue reading US President Donald Trump pressures automakers to increase production in the US

General Motors to invest an extra $1 billion in US manufacturing

gm building

General Motors says it will invest an additional $1 billion into its manufacturing operations in the US, adding to the $2.9 billion of investment it announced last year. 

And in a what may have been an extra comment aimed at President-elect Donald Trump, GM says it has invested a total of $21 billion in its US manufacturing operations since 2009.

Like virtually all other automakers and large manufacturing companies, such as Apple, GM has been the target of some criticism from Trump, who wants to fulfil his campaign promise to bring back manufacturing jobs to the US.  Continue reading General Motors to invest an extra $1 billion in US manufacturing

GM begins autonomous vehicle manufacturing and testing in Michigan

gm autonomous car tests

On the heels of the signing of the Save Act legislation to support autonomous vehicle testing and deployment in Michigan, General Motors says it will immediately begin testing autonomous vehicles on public roads.

GM also announced it will produce the next generation of its autonomous test vehicles at its Orion Township assembly plant beginning in early 2017.

General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra, says: “Revolutionizing transportation for our customers while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to making this vision a reality.

“Our autonomous technology will be reliable and safe, as customers have come to expect from any of our vehicles.”  Continue reading GM begins autonomous vehicle manufacturing and testing in Michigan

General Motors claims highest number of connected vehicles

gm connectivity

General Motors says it has the largest number of connected vehicles in the world, with almost 3 million currently on the road – far more than any other automaker. 

General Motors claims it “started the connected car revolution 20 years ago” with the launch of OnStar and continues to deliver innovative solutions at a scale unmatched by anyone in the industry.

OnStar is the enabler for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Opel and Vauxhall to introduce new technology features across a broad range of drivers. Today, the blue button brand delivers services in four continents, 18 countries, 10 languages and 13 time zones, with more than a billion customer interactions.

While emergency and security services remain a staple of OnStar, the company has expanded to offer customer-driven mobility solutions that create a personalized experience for GM and Maven customers.  Continue reading General Motors claims highest number of connected vehicles

Industrial robots can now do their work uninterrupted thanks to the cloud and offline programming

fanuc industrial robot

Industrial robots are increasingly being connected to the cloud, where they can be managed centrally in some sort of control room, which means that a small number of human staff could theoretically manage hundreds, if not thousands, of machines.

Previously they were almost always operated in isolated circumstances within factories, inside a work cell, fenced off from human workers because of safety concerns. They were programmed individually, using a teach pendant, which is like a 20-years-out-of-date oversized mobile phone.

The teach pendant is still used for refinements and modifications after the machine goes online, into work, but nowadays most industrial robots are prepared for a life of work using offline programming. Continue reading Industrial robots can now do their work uninterrupted thanks to the cloud and offline programming