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March 1, 2016

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is too complex for robots to assemble

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In a world rapidly changing thanks to the advances of technology, robots have become ubiquitous on assembly lines across the world. From your iPhone to Ford’s manufacturing plants, robots have become a part of the manufacturing workforce. But when it comes to luxury goods, there are a few items that should always be handmade: things like a custom Tom Ford suit (Zegna is so 2009) or a Hermés Birkin bag. Surprisingly, Mercedes-Benz wants the S-Class to be added to the list. “Robots can’t deal with the degree of individualization and the many variants that we have today,” Markus Schaefer, the head of production at Mercedes-Benz said.
Yes, Mercedes has begun removing robots from its assembly line and replacing them with humans, as the customization options it offers have become too complex for robots to offer. “The variety is too much to take on for the machines,” Schaefer said. “They can’t work with all the different options and keep pace with changes.”
That means your monogramed seats and temperature-controlled rear cupholders will have been installed by someone you can yell at, if a thread is out of place or a woodgrain isn’t quite to your liking.
Soon when you send your assistant to exchange the old S-Class for the newest model — because let’s be honest, who keeps an S-Class for more than a year? — your new car will have been assembled largely by actual humans, bringing back the distinct feel of having a truly custom Mercedes-Benz that can now sit next to your custom Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

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