BMW Inspects New Cars With Gesture Interface

System ensures bumper quality with the wave of a hand

The BMW Group has developed a new system for inspecting bumpers that enables workers to point out defects with hand gestures. The pilot project at the company’s Landshut site utilizes camera-based gesture detection systems (like those used in the gaming industry) for automotive production.

Before bumpers are mounted onto the vehicles, workers check the quality of the parts and each flaw is recorded in a system and evaluated. Previously, workers had to document these on a PC, which cost valuable time and could be very complex. In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute in Karlsruhe, the BMW Group has worked on a solution to this, developing a program that is able to detect and evaluate gestures.

It recognizes the interaction between the inspector and the bumper so they can identify defects by pointing at them. A wiping motion means the bumper is flawless, while pointing a finger at a faulty section registers this movement using cameras before being evaluated and stored by the program.

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The gesture detection system is controlled with two 3D cameras mounted above the workplaces. These are fitted with sensors that radiate infrared light through a filter, beaming an invisible grid of points with fixed coordinates across the room. This builds up a 3D bumper model which is then stored on the system.

There are a number of advantages to using this new system. Flaws can be recorded and evaluated without the inspector turning away from the bumper, so they don’t need to leave their workplace. This makes quality control faster and more accurate, and doesn’t require the use of any special equipment like glasses, gloves or microphones.

The sensor technology required for this gesture system doesn’t affect the standard workflow when it is installed. It is easy to use and doesn’t require any extra training time. People don’t have to walk to other workstations anymore and can concentrate better on what they’re doing. The pilot phase of the project has been completed successfully and preparations are now underway for the application of the system in series production.

BMW Group

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