ASTI Tribot at Seat in an outdoor application

It probably won’t be long before the Spanish car manufacturer Seat rolls off the assembly line cars that can get by without a driver on the road. Seat is already offering a small foretaste of this future on its own factory premises in Mortell. Here, for the first time, eight autonomous transport robots of the Tribot type from ASTI Mobile Robotics will handle the transport. The vehicles are equipped with SLAM navigation, which simultaneously localises and creates maps of the surroundings. The vehicles are also 4G-compatible and have an inductive battery charging system. Vehicle side parts as well as tailgates and doors up to 10 t are transported on a 3.5 km long outdoor track with 240 km per day.

  • Sector: Automotive
  • 8 vehicles for a 25 m long convoy
  • Max. transport load 10 t
  • Transport distance 3.5 km each way, only outdoor, in total 240 km per day
  • SLAM navigation

Task and customer benefits

For the SEAT plant in Martorell, ASTI Mobile Robotics has developed a driverless transport system for the transport of vehicle parts. The transport robots are to drive outdoors and connect the assembly workshops on the production site.

By using the transport robots, manual truck and tractor traffic could be significantly reduced.

Initial situation

Before the installation of the driverless transport systems, trucks and tractors were used to transport the heavy components on the site. This often resulted in traffic jams and unnecessary exhaust fumes.

Project description

The SEAT plant in Martorell is getting closer and closer to its declared goal of creating the most sustainable, automated and intelligent factory possible. SEAT is the first industrial manufacturing company in Europe to deploy driverless transport vehicles (FTFs) outdoors, equipped with SLAM (simultaneous positioning and mapping) navigation, 4G data link and inductive battery charging. The outdoor SLAM navigation functions similar to the indoor version. It is based on the approach that robots use cameras and sensors such as lidar (“Light Detection and Ranging”) to make relative measurements of the surrounding geometry. The position of the robot is selected at the beginning of the measurement as the starting point of a coordinate system. Based on the measurement data, a map of the environment is then simultaneously created and continuously expanded. The robot usually also measures its movements using speed, steering angle and gyroscope data. In the case of outdoor vehicles, however, the engineers on site have to keep an eye on the weather. Depending on the weather conditions, the laser scanners are configured with a special filter. In addition, reflectors on the transport route help during the navigation.

Currently, eight driverless AGVs work in automatic mode outside of the production sites at the Martorell plant. The new vehicles join the existing fleet of 200 AGVs, which already transport parts within the assembly workshops at the Martorell and Barcelona plants.

Together with its trailers, each outdoor AGV forms a 25-meter convoy and has a maximum transport capacity of 10 tons. Each AGV covers distances of 3.5 kilometers. The eight FTFs drive a total of 240 kilometres per day.

Thanks to SLAM navigation, neither magnetic tapes nor wires are required to guide these vehicles, so maintenance costs are low. They are also versatile for use on new routes and do not require any construction work for their installation. Two routes are currently operated between the press shop and the metal workshop, where vehicle side panels, tailgates and doors are transported. This eliminates truck traffic between these locations.

Traffic regulation

In order to control the traffic on the site, a traffic light system was developed, which communicates with the AGV. If an AGV approaches a traffic light, it automatically receives right of way. In addition, a special safety laser scanner for outdoor use (Sick outdoorScan3) ensures the necessary personal protection even in adverse weather conditions. For example, if a person crosses one of the pedestrian crossings, the vehicle stops. The vehicles move at a speed of approximately 1250 mm/s. Emergency stop buttons have also been fitted to the trailers.

Each of the outdoor AGVs is equipped with a lithium-ion battery, which allows up to 16 hours of use. The batteries are charged inductively at the transfer stations.

Project achievements

The fleet of outdoor AGVs has reduced annual CO2 emissions by 1.5 tons, as parts were previously transported by truck and tractor. In addition, fewer goods are piled up at the start and end points and the internal vehicle traffic within the factory is reduced. The project was developed in cooperation with ASTI Mobile Robotics and Telefónica.

With this project, SEAT is improving its efficiency and taking big steps towards its goal of transforming the Martorell plant into a Smart Factory.