Industry 4.0 at BMW: Driverless transport logistics

Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It introduces what has been called the “smart factory,” in which cyber-physical systems monitor the physical processes of the factory and make decentralized decisions. The physical systems become Internet of Things, communicating and cooperating both with each other and with humans in real time via the wireless web.

Currently, BMW has developed an industry 4.0 system regarding driverless transport vehicles.

  • Intellignet reach trucks which are smart trucks that learn to orient and adapt themselves based on their environment. Communication with the vehicle is easily done using speech or gesture commands. If a warehouse worker were to issue a command such as “Store this pallet on shelf 3”, the vehicle interprets both the spoken word and any associated gesture. It can then identify the desired pallet and perform the requested storage, fetching or re-positioning task without the need of human intervention.
  • 3D Time of Flight camera technology in the reach trucks. This technology provides an effective way to capture 3D shape and volume measurements ideal for driverless-vehicles. Each ‘reach truck’ utilises three cameras. Each one takes a three dimensional note of its environment and spatial perception. Any changes in the warehouse are noticed, for example if there is a barrier in its path the reach truck (thanks to the camera system) would edge around the obstacle.
    • 2 of the 3 cameras gives the trucks the perception
    • The 3th camera gives the trucks the accuracy necessary to pick up the pallets

Advantages of the system:

  1. Reduced number of picking errors
  2. Increased working speed
  3. Increased productivity and profitability
  4. No labour cost



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