Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is in the final phase of testing robots that will assemble its 777 airliner fuselages.
As part of its ongoing technology investment, the method is dubbed Fuselage Automated Upright Build (FAUB), and uses automated, guided robots that fasten the panels of the fuselage together, drilling and filling the more than approximately 60,000 fasteners that are today installed by hand.
Boeing said that the method offers benefits including improved employee safety, presumably because no human employees are actually involved in the process now.
The firm, which was recently subject to a hack which saw data about its military C-17 transport aircraft stolen, said that more than half of all injuries on the 777 program have occurred during the phase of production that is being automated.
"This is the first time such technology will be used by Boeing to manufacture widebody commercial airplanes and the 777 program is leading the way," said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager, 777 program.
"We’re excited to continue improving the production process here and we’re positioning ourselves to begin building 777X airplanes in the future."
Lund further told Aviation Week that the robots will actually create more job opportunities.
"Will you be able to build the fuselage with fewer people than today? Yes. But there is a lot of work to do at the Everett site, with the 777X coming in and other site changes."
By attaining higher build rates, Boeing said that it can create additional jobs.