Making Mercedes models even safer and more efficient - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 11-16-2006, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Making Mercedes models even safer and more efficient

In cooperation with Pilz, DaimlerChrysler has developed a worldwide unique system that will make production-facility working environments even safer in the future. The new technology, which is called SafetyEYE, will make it possible to replace numerous required safety systems that are complex and costly. "The new system will enable us to better protect workers from unintentional contact with production equipment," says Günter Walz, head of Production Planning at Mercedes Car Group. SafetyEYE will also increase efficiency despite its lower cost. DaimlerChrysler plans to begin using the system in 2007, thereby setting new standards for safety in automobile production. The world’s oldest automotive company will thus underscore its leadership in the development of efficient and safe production techniques.

The new safety system uses technologies for monitoring surroundings that DaimlerChrysler researchers have developed for optical assistance systems in vehicles. One derived technology will use video cameras to monitor the entire area impacted by specific production machines, such as robots. This monitoring will be comprehensive and three-dimensional, thus ensuring maximum safety when people and machines share a work area. DaimlerChrysler is currently subjecting the SafetyEYE system to extensive testing. Following the system’s certification by the employer’s liability insurance association (expected in April 2007), the technology will initially be used at production facilities for the new E-Class.

At the heart of the SafetyEYE system are three cameras that are encased in an aluminum housing and mounted above the production area. Two conventional computers operating in parallel analyze the images recorded by the cameras. They do this independently of each other in order to ensure the greatest possible reliability, and thus safety. Unlike conventional systems, whose scope is limited to two-dimensional monitoring of a potentially dangerous area, SafetyEYE surveys the entire room in question. This means it can react in a flexible manner. For example, it can prevent emergency work stoppages by simply slowing down machines rather than shutting them off when a person gets too close.

"This system benefits employees and the company alike because it completely secures sensitive areas and thus ensures greater safety for workers," says Walz. "It also reacts more flexibly than previous systems to potentially dangerous situations."

Besides clearly enhancing safety and flexibility, the new system offers a number of other advantages, including fast installation. Whereas only a few hours are required to set up SafetyEYE’s freely programmable, three-dimensional "protective cocoon", it can take as much as a day to install, position, set up and check a conventional safety system. SafetyEYE is also very cost-efficient, achieving savings of up to 70 percent as compared to similar conventional concepts that require the use of several components.

SafetyEYE’s great flexibility is also reflected in the fact that it can be used to monitor several production areas simultaneously. Such merging of neighboring safety areas gives engineers more freedom when designing production facilities.

SafetyEYE’s abilities will be expanded in the future to enable it, for example, to distinguish between people and inanimate objects, such as a human hand and a wrench. This, in turn, will bring production systems a step closer to having people and machines working on the same component simultaneously.

One thing the new technology will not be used for is the monitoring of employees. "That, of course, is never going to happen," says Walz, "because we won’t be storing any images other than a short sequence of one to four frames in the event that someone enters the danger zone."

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