Yeah, the “alien dreadnought” is an actual thing. What else would you expect from the company that brings you SpaceX and Neuralink; the brain-reading “Fitbit for your skull.” Occasionally Tesla founder Elon Musk has referred to the elusive Alien Dreadnought as the ultimate automated system. But, can it hurt us?
The Alien Dreadnought inches us closer to the elimination of assembly line workers
Probably not. But it is inching us ever-so closer to the elimination of assembly line workers toiling over half-assembled cars. Back when the Tesla Model 3 was barrelling toward its production debut the Alien dreadnought was first stabbed into Musk’s vernacular. He wanted a production line so automated it would look extraterrestrial. Something not of this world, in other words.
The Model 3 production line ended up looking like most vehicle assembly lines; a combo of humans and robots in a delicate dance as the line slowly moves forth. But Musk wants to get as much robot interface as possible. An example, as Teslarati points out, is the rigid wiring incorporated into the Model Y which is mostly installed by robots.
The battery assemblage looks like something never seen
So now Tesla has produced a recruitment video that includes many shots of its battery production line. The 4680-cell battery assemblage looks like something we’ve never seen-like an alien landscape of choreographed robotics. You can see what’s missing; humans.
For all of the stages of battery production, there is not a single person seen. And some shots look like the battery line is miles long. As with many specialized production lines, much of the actual machinery components are custom-made by milling machines. And it all looks to be optimized for automation.
With cell production, you need them to be like clean rooms for making microchips. Those workers that are present must wear protective clothing. Without a human presence interfacing with the cell production, you eliminate most instances of contamination.
Musk may be close to the alien dreadnought he has always wanted
To this point, competitors to Tesla’s EV juggernaut are purchasing modular battery packs. Some, like GM, are embarking on manufacturing their own batteries. Either way, these approaches still require some degree of human involvement for assembly. If Tesla’s battery cell manufacturing is as it seems Musk may be close to the alien dreadnought that he has always hoped for.
It may be dystopian in many respects but everyone who has ever seen a science fiction movie could see this happening someday. Now, we may be at the epoch of just such product production. Already automobile production lines incorporate more robots than even 10 years ago. If you’ve not been in an assembly plant recently it is almost shocking the lack of workers mulling around vehicles as they roll down the line.