GM has filed a patent application for a vehicle assembly system that can autonomously complete a partially assembled vehicle, potentially streamlining the vehicle assembly process even further.
The GM patent filing has been assigned application number US 2023/0145508 A1 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and was published on May 11th, 2023. The patent was originally filed on November 8th, 2021, and lists several Michigan-based engineers as the inventors, including Michael R. Kaphengst, Seog-Chan Oh, Alfred J. Manser, and James W. Wells.
The new GM patent describes a system whereby a partially assembled vehicle can autonomously complete its own assembly. The partially assembled vehicle includes a chassis, wheels that are rotationally coupled to the chassis, a drive system, a navigation system, a central platform controller, and a position determining system. The assembly system also includes a safety sensor guidance system and a controller circuit responsive to an external fleet controller.
The auto-complete system can identify a plurality of assembly stations that the partially assembled vehicle must visit in order to complete its own assembly. Although modern automotive assembly is already highly automated, the system described in the new GM patent addresses certain technical issues related to the current system, and can potentially streamline the process even further, in particular with regard to potential hiccups in the current fixed assembly line process.
The new GM patent describes how how the current assembly line conveyor system enforces a fixed sequence of assembly steps, thus preventing the optimization of assembly station use. In addition, a malfunction in a fixed assembly line conveyor affects all of the vehicles attached to it.
To address these issues, the autonomous vehicle assembly system described in the GM patent enables a partially completed vehicle to transport itself through its own assembly process, visiting the appropriate assembly stations needed for both optimized assembly and uninterrupted completion irrespective of singular technical problems at one or more stations.