AI helps build PlayStation 4 consoles in just 30 seconds

Even the most delicate processes are handled by robots

In a recent visit to the Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations (SGMO) plant on the outskirts of Kisarazu, Japan, Nikkei Asian Review learned that the factory can churn out on PlayStation 4 console every 30 seconds. 

How does it pull off throwing together all the delicate bits in less time than it takes you to peel the shrink-wrap off a new game? Artificial intelligence (AI) is the key. 

AI is nothing new in the world of assembly and manufacturing, but most companies leave the big pieces to the bots while humans handle the more delicate parts. In the SGMO plant, that’s not the case. 

At the plant, only a few humans are on the floor while 32 Mitsubishi Electric-supplied robots handle the bulk of the assembly process. The humans’ only jobs are to feed the robots bare motherboards and box up each finished console. 

Even a task as delicate as attaching a flat cable - a tapelike electric cable - that requires holding the cable in a specific direction and handles it with just the right amount of pressure while another arm twist is completed by the AI robots. This is nothing big for a human to handle, but programming a robot to do it without breaking or misaligning anything is quite impressive. 

According to one engineer at the site: "There's probably no other site that can manipulate robots in this manner.”

This is nothing new for Sony, though. The company optimized its PlayStation consoles for quick mass production from the beginning. And that was way back in 1994. This allowed the company to remain profitable even as revenues fell as the console aged and prices dropped. 

Though we’re still a long way away from realizing AI’s full potential, the fact it can mass-produce a console in just 30 seconds is a promising sign. 

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