MARTORELL, Spain—SEAT S.A. is using autonomous mobile robots to deliver parts to workers at its automotive assembly plant here.

SEAT is the first carmaker in Spain to use the robots, called EffiBOTs, which are intended to increase flexibility and efficiency in supplying parts to the assembly line.

“Autonomous mobile robots place us at the forefront of innovation in the automotive sector,” says Herbert Steiner, vice president for production and logistics. They’re also a clear example of how robots can collaborate with employees to make their work easier. Their incorporation contributes to driving Industry 4.0 and making us more efficient, flexible, agile and competitive.”

The EffiBOT was developed by French company Effidence. The robot can follow a worker as he moves around the factory, even if the robot encounters other workers or objects in its way. The worker simply needs to tap the robot’s touchscreen interface; he does not need to carry a device, such as a remote control or an RFID tag. The robot continuously monitors its surroundings in every direction.

Unlike automated guided vehicles, which require a track to function properly, autonomous mobile robots such as EffiBOT can recognize their surroundings and map the best route to a defined destination, avoiding obstacles along the way.

Among other tasks, the EffiBOT can be used to transport various parts and materials for car assembly. It can carry up to 250 kilograms or pull up to 500 kilograms. SEAT has introduced two EffiBOTs to the line in an experimental phase and could expand the number of these robots in the future.