Tesla has revealed its revolutionary new wiring architecture that enables more robot automation in the manufacturing process and uses fewer materials for its upcoming cars like Model Y and Tesla Pickup truck.
CEO Elon Musk said that one of their biggest mistakes with their attempt at highly automating the production of the Model 3 was trying to automate tasks that humans are much better at than robots, like manipulating cables.
In order to facilitate the automation of manipulating cables, Tesla has been reducing the length of wiring harnesses in its vehicles.
Musk said that Model S has about 3 kilometers of wiring harnesses and Tesla brought it down to 1.5 kilometers in length for the Model 3.
But that’s just the beginning. Tesla is working on a whole new wiring architecture for future vehicle platforms and they aim to bring it down to just 100 meters starting with the Model Y.
In a new patent application that recently became public and was obtained by Electrek, Tesla revealed the first details of this new wiring architecture:
“In this new wiring architecture, subsystems are packaged and defined in one or multiple assemblies in certain embodiments. For example, a door assembly might contain one controller (or hub) that controls multiple devices, such as locking components, lighting components, audio components, etc. In addition to decreasing the number and length of wiring needed, the ability to create these subassemblies and then connect them to the wiring-architecture backbone will decrease assembly time during general assembly, which is very desirable to increase productivity in a vehicle manufacturing process. The subassembly may be created ahead of general assembly with only the connection between the door subassembly and subsystem made and verified during general assembly.”
Here are a few drawings that Tesla released in the patent application:
Tesla’s patent application describes more rigid wiring harness systems that can be more easily manipulated by robots, which is currently one of the main reasons why general assembly is the more labor extensive parts of overall car production.
In the application, Tesla gives some background on the current problems with traditional car wiring:
“Traditional car wiring for vehicles are piecemeal solutions. Typically, there are different wiring harnesses that connect each different electrical component to a central battery or power source. Each component receives power, but requires multiple wiring harnesses for communication and signals. The total length of the wire may be many miles within a single vehicle. These wiring harnesses typically consist of multiple round conductors that are not rigid. Round conductors are not optimal for transmitting current and the lack of rigidity of traditional wiring harnesses requires assembly into the vehicle using human hands, which can be a slow process. Further, connecting each component to the central battery is not optimized on an automobile level.”
Over the last few months, Tesla also filed other patent applications for technologies to help facilitate automated production, like new cables.
This looks like a big deal.
It’s a technology that Elon briefly referenced years ago when he started talking about “the machine that builds the machine” and how he now sees Tesla as a manufacturing company first.
I believe that this is the kind of technology that Elon was talking about when he talked about orders of magnitude improvements in the speed of manufacturing vehicles.
He has been talking about introducing this with Model Y, but it’s not clear if that’s still in the plans since it is sharing a lot of parts with Model 3 — about 70%.
Introducing a wiring architecture is likely going to be difficult, but the benefits look to be significant.
It could drastically decrease labor costs of producing Tesla vehicles and help achieve lower prices and higher gross margins, which will ultimately result in more electric vehicles on the road.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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