Less than 3 months away from the planned start of Model 3 production, Tesla has received a massive order of robots for its production line. Hundreds of Kuka robots arrived at Tesla’s Fremont factory and are now being installed.
Pictures of the robots inside the factory give us a rare glimpse at what Elon Musk has been describing as an ‘Alien Dreadnought’.
Musk said that his goal is for the factory to look more “alien” than a factory.
He emphasized that the first version of the Model 3 production line will only be a “version 0.5” of the “alien dreadnought”, but the line will get updated with more automation and he envisions a “version 3” in a few more years:
“By version 3, it won’t look like anything else. You can’t have people in the production line itself, otherwise you drop to people speed. So there will be no people in production process itself. People will maintain the machines, upgrade them, and deal with anomalies.”
The CEO has been focused on the speed of production over the past year. He says that Model S and X production move at about five centimeters per second on the line, but he sees an opportunity for a 20-fold increase in production speed for the Model 3 in Fremont – or “at least one meter per second.”
We are probably a while from that happening, but we are much closer to the “version 0.5” of the “alien dreadnought” as Model 3 production is getting closer. Significant parts of the Model 3 production line are already in place and have produced a few Model 3 release candidates, but it’s still growing.
On a gun trading forum and since removed (h/t to Jake), someone claiming to be a “Field Service Engineer for Kuka Robotics” posted pictures of the new robots being unpacked and installed in Fremont:
We can see that Tesla has installed new ramps to have the robots mounted both at the level of the line and over the production line.
The person said that they are commissioned to install “467 robots and 21 KL slides” over the next seven and half weeks, which places the expected finish time in mid-June – or weeks before the planned started of Model 3 production.
Those new robots are also only parts of the entire production process. As we reported last week, Tesla’s Advanced Automation is getting ready to ship two production lines for Model 3 inverters in the next few weeks.
In comparison, Musk said that the second production line had 542 robots in total after being updated ahead of Model X production. He added that 15 Kuka robots could operate on a single vehicle all at the same time. Here’s a glimpse at that production line:
Tesla has been using both Fanuc and Kuka robots on its production lines at the Fremont factory and at the Gigafactory in Nevada. There are a few different kinds of robots helping employees at the plants. Some workers say that they see them as colleagues, something Tesla already tried to facilitate at its Fremont Factory by giving X-men names to the robots. Last year, we made a quick list of some of the coolest robots that Tesla has been using at its factories.