Mercedes Wants People Building Its Best Cars Because Robots Aren't Good Enough

Technology / Comments

At least robots don't strike when they get laid off.

Mercedes-Benz is making what seems to be a backwards step in production technology by slowly pulling the robot hand out of the S-Class assembly line and replacing it with people. Contrary to what you're probably thinking, this is actually being done to speed things up on the line. The reason for this is customization. Basically, so many S-Class customers want custom options that the robots can't keep up. Henry Ford, the inventor of the modern assembly line, had a famous quote about car options.

He said, "they can have it (the Model T) in any color they want as long as its black." Unfortunately for Ford, a consumer's dollar is better at winning arguments, and now days people want all sorts of add-ons to their cars, especially the big spenders. So when a customer shows up to buy an S-Class and gives Mercedes a laundry list of ridiculous add-ons, a human is much better suited to adapt and conform to these demands instead of a robot, which has to be reprogrammed. In fact, the German brand is so confident in this new construction practice that it expects the build time for an average car in its factory to go from 61 hours to just 30. In other news, Mercedes is the first company to trust if the robot revolution ever comes.

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