BMW is turning to startups to automate the circulation of their vehicles in their factories. On July 19, 2022, a car manufacturer announced the deployment of a pilot program for unmanned mobility in its factories. The project is called AFW pilot for “Automatisiertes Fahren im Werk” or “factory automated driving project”.
Sensors in the environment
“Automated driving in a factory is fundamentally different from autonomous driving for customers,” explains Sascha Andre, who is in charge of the project, in a press release. for maneuvering, they are integrated along the route through the plant.” For this project, BMW is using a sensor infrastructure that detects vehicles and obstacles, as well as driving planning software that sends commands to vehicles.
As part of this project, BMW is collaborating with startups Seoul Robotics and Embotech. First from South Korea to develop detection software that uses sensors to create a digital twin of the environment, classify objects, and locate a vehicle. Embotech, a Swiss startup, develops driving management software that sends vehicles the necessary maneuvers. Routes are calculated in real time, allowing each vehicle to react according to its environment.
Development on other sites?
Initially, the program concerns the BMW 7 Series and the BMW i7 at the site in Dingolfing in Bavaria. Vehicles will first move autonomously in the assembly area, then in the logistics part to get to the parking lot. The pilot project is expected to run for several months, but partners are already looking to expand the program to other vehicle models and factories. The goal is to improve logistics in factories and distribution centers. This also allows space to be optimized as vehicles are parked as best as possible.