Tesla Files Patent Aimed at Using Augmented Reality to Boost Manufacturing
Tesla could soon incorporate augmented reality technology in its manufacturing processes if a newly filed patent is anything to go by. According to the patent, the company is exploring the possibility of using AR technologies as vehicles for improving both the production and efficiency in its factories.
The Tesla AR patent has been filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)and has been described as its AR app for manufacturing.
According to the patent application, the AR app will capture a series of images from the physical production environment. From the series of the captured images, it will be possible to identify sections of the detected object. These series of images will enable workers in the production floor to identify any deviances from the references properties that are connected to the detected objects. The information that has been captured from the deviance is thereby transmitted through an augmented reality device.
Augmented reality systems simply work by overlaying digital information or content on a user’s real-world view of their physical environment. This fusion of the virtual with the physical can see AR technologies lend themselves to some practical uses, particularly in the production environment where engineers or technicians constantly need accurate data and information on the production line.
In the production floor, augmented reality can be successfully deployed in overlaying important technical information and instruction manuals onto the manufacturing environment in real time. Augmented reality systems can also be used in projecting equipment status and data feeds from sensors and relaying this data to the factory floor to meet the data requirements in relation to specific production activities.
The trend towards the deployment of augmented reality represents the roll out of Industry 4.0. The next generation of smart manufacturing will move away from traditional automation and computerization towards an augmented reality and virtual reality–based smart manufacturing to realize both speed and efficiency.
Both virtual reality and augmented reality are growing in leaps and bounds and spending in these technologies is expected to hit $53 billion by 2022. Leading investors in the technologies include those in the transportation, retail and discrete manufacturing industries.
The Tesla’s augmented reality concept could be used with AR headsets such as the Google Glass which has so failed to pick up in the consumer market even as it gains more currency in the business or enterprise use cases.
The Tesla patent has illustrated a possible use case of joint fabrication which involves the technicians overlaying plastic molds or paper in marking out measurements along with part placements. With the use of an AR app that is tailored for smart manufacturing, the technicians could simply overlay a clear but transparent augmented reality data feeds onto the surface being worked, there by helping the company save on time, cost and materials. This leads to greater efficiency and speed of fabrication.
Other challenges involved in the automotive production such as forming connections and mechanical joints to points or spot welds can also be simplified by overlaying virtual information onto the surface of the material being worked upon.
As technology improves and the prices come down, the augmented reality headsets will be replace cameras, the traditional safety glasses and other external accessories in the coming years so the Tesla expects its AR applications to be primarily implemented with headsets.
According to the Tesla patent, the AR app would come in handy not just for human operators but also in programming robots in production lines to assemble various parts.Robots interfaced with AR could use the technology to perform various functions such as the identification and the marking of the actual location as well as the order of welds, laser welds, fasteners, various mechanical joints, sealers and holes among others.