Tesla has applied for a patent for an augmented reality (AR) application that could be used with Google Glass to help increase production in its Fremont factories.
Google Glass is an AR smart glasses device that initially launched as a consumer product but then pivoted into an enterprise device with applications training and manufacturing.
The launch of the Glass ‘Explorer Edition’ motivated several companies to develop AIR applications for it, including Tesla. The patent for their application has recently become public.
Patent describes the app that can analyze the material thickness
Tesla's patent is called 'Augmented Reality Application for Manufacturing' which describes a system that overlays data on an item of interest.
Google Glass can be worn instead of safety glasses, offering both protection and at hand information.
The patent describes how it could be used in a factory setting to give workers immediate information about the vehicle or part in front of them:
"An augmented reality (AR) application for manufacturing is disclosed. In some embodiments, computer vision and augmented reality techniques are utilized to identify an object of interest and the relationship between a user and the object."
"For example, a user has an AR device such as a smartphone that includes a camera and sensors or a pair of AR smart glasses. In some embodiments, the AR glasses may be in the form of safety glasses. The AR device captures a live view of an object of interest, for example, a view of one or more automotive parts."
The AR device described could be used in the training of workers to help them quickly become familiar with the terminology used as well as for repairs and maintenance.
The patent goes on to describe how the device can display information as detailed as the thickness of the objects e-coating.
"The AR device determines the location of the device as well as the location and type of the object of interest. For example, the AR device identifies that the object of interest is a right-hand front shock tower of a vehicle."
"The AR device then overlays data corresponding to features of the object of interest, such as mechanical joints, interfaces with other parts, the thickness of e-coating, etc. on top of the view of the object of interest."
"Examples of the joint features include spot welds, self-pierced rivets, laser welds, structural adhesive, and sealers, among others. As the user moves around the object, the view of the object from the perspective of the AR device and the overlaid data of the detected features adjust accordingly."
Interestingly the device isn't just for passive use, the patent describes how the wearer can interact with the device which goes some way to show just how broadly the device could be applied across the production process. The patent continues:
"The user can also interact with the AR device. For example, a user can display information on each of the identified features. In some embodiments, for example, the AR device displays the tolerances associated with each detected feature, such as the location of a spot weld or hole."
"As another example, the overlaid data on the view of the object includes:
-details for assembly,
-such as the order to perform laser welds,
the type of weld to perform,
-the tolerance associated with each feature,
-whether a feature is assembled correctly, etc."
"In various embodiments, the AR device detects features of a physical object and displays digital information interactively to the user. The data associated with the object of interest is presented to help the user more efficiently perform a manufacturing task.”
The application looks as though it will use computer vision technology to deeply analyze what a worker sees including the thickness and quality of the material.
This additional information can help them quickly make decisions on their next action. Tesla is determined to increase and maintain high production numbers and AR powered glasses might just be the way they do it.
The full patent can be read here.