Drones are becoming a staple of the 21st century; the good and the bad. But SEAT is focusing on the good, using them to deliver parts and components at its factories…
Drones are arguably the incarnation of a looming technological boom. Not only do they promise a vast range of applications, they also embody all of the hopes and fears of modern innovation; being used positively and sometimes nefariously. But Spanish automaker SEAT is focusing on the positives. It’s using them at its Martorell factory, northeast of Barcelona, to deliver a range of parts and components. This pilot scheme sees the drones make 15-minute deliveries between logistics centres and workshops. The first delivery consisted of a steering wheel, but they’ll also haul airbags and more moving forward.
When orders are placed, parts are secured in carbon fibre capsules at logistics centres located 2km away. It’s attached via a powerful electromagnet. They then travel at a speed of 25 mph and at a height of 95 metres; being in the air for just 4 minutes for each delivery. Because they use electric batteries they’re carbon-neutral, too. SEAT believes they’ll save up to a tonne of CO2 every year.
Safety is tantamount though, with the project being overseen by the Spanish Aviation Safety Agency (AESE). Pilot Toni Caballero also described the features of the drones themselves. He said, “we’ve tripled safety on this project. The most important aspect was that the drone had a large load capacity and to streamline its construction to the maximum. In addition to its six motors, we’ve equipped it with three GPS, six batteries and three IMU (Inertial Measurement Units), which are the inner workings of the drone.”
What The Future Holds
Drones remain fairly embryonic, but they’re rapidly being integrated into more and more business models. Amazon is using them, some eateries are delivering pizzas and Highways England is using the tech to speed up construction work. For the automotive industry, it seems they have an especially natural place. For the most part, it relies upon ‘last minute’ supply-chains as stockpiling millions of parts would be logistically impossible and financially unsustainable.
No doubt drones will get bigger, stronger and more efficient as time goes on; probably more autonomous as well. All of this means they’ll ripe for exploitation by criminals and bad actors. But as SEAT has demonstrated, they’ll also make our lives easier and more productive. It’ll be interesting to see what the results of the trial are. If it’s successful, perhaps it’ll be rolled out across the Volkswagen Group more broadly (which owns SEAT).
Highways England Is Using Drones To Speed Up Roadworks – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/highways-england-is-using-drones-to-speed-up-roadworks/
Jaguar Land Rover Boss Says Brexit Stockpiling ‘Not An Option’ – https://www.autoservefleet.co.uk/latest-news/jaguar-land-rover-boss-says-brexit-stockpiling-not-an-option/