Through the eyes & the heart of a robotics expert

A view into the welding workshop of Škoda Auto and its approach to automation.


Through the eyes & the heart of a robotics expert
Veronika Čáslavská
Robots help across various fields –⁠ the automotive industry presents no exception. In Škoda Auto, robots help with the automatization of welding shops – Jan Čejka told us a bit more about that. Apart from an hour-long tape on the voice recorder and some other material for our report, what else have we gained?

1. Falling in love with robots? Less of a sci-fi than you’d think.

“You wouldn’t believe what a relationship you can build with robots. Sometimes, we even talk about them as about our babies,” Jan Čejka laughs. In an instant, he passes a tablet to us. This tablet controls a bright orange robot Kuka, one of their mechanical helpers. “See for yourself how addictive this is.” And really –⁠ the robot turns its head to the left, then to the right at our command –⁠ its moves pretty much resemble those of any human. As if it was flirting with us.

2. Robots do the hard work for you, but not the thinking

Robots are capable of performing both hard and dangerous tasks. Thanks to this, people can spend more time on creative tasks or the more difficult challenges. That’s also the case at the Mladá Boleslav car factory. The number of welders among the production is getting thin. Still, the demand for adjusters or programmers increases, as they take care of the machines. “People are not completely replaceable. Only their role is changing,” Čejka explains.

3. Though robotic experts from Mladá Boleslav are humble, they are elite

Čejka’s team includes only 3 people. Despite the small number, they managed to invent a patent. The car’s coachwork used to be manipulated by mechanical devices, but nowadays, everything can be performed via camera. This innovative solution originated as a result of a collaboration with SICK, and nowadays, it is being employed in everyday production. Moreover, ŠKODA AUTO ranks among the greatest robots’ purchasers in the Czech Republic, as they buy up to 500 per year. “It would be awesome to find some sort of educational workspace where we could pass our experience onto others,” Čejka wishes.

4. Robot’s gambit. Robots are being trained through chess figures

We notice a rather interesting thing in the training premises –⁠ chess figures, together with a curious paper bridge. Čejka explains their purpose, “We examine the robots’ controlling here. Using one of the robots, students are required to pick up the chess figure and place it somewhere else. Or they must drive over the paper bridge without destroying it.”

5. Robot’s brain is as if that of the programmer

Having the most innovative equipment is certainly cool, but it’s not everything. “It always depends on the technologies that you install into your robot. The right robotic expert is a bit of a mathematician, a physicist, and a programmer. They must be capable of foreseeing the robot’s behaviour,” Čejka names. “But now, please, excuse me. I am heading to our branch in Kvasiny, where I need to install 40 new pieces.”

Read through the report on ŠKODA AUTO career blog

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