ABB Robotics’ new art star is the world’s first art car

15 May 2022

ABB Robotics has collaborated with artists across the globe to create the ‘world’s first-robot-painted art car.’ The company took a human design and used technology to recreate it on a vehicle.

The canvas for this singular art project came in the shape of the roof area on a Volkswagen SUV which was damaged in the floods that hit Germany in the summer of 2021

The collaboration has seen ABB Robotics working with eight-year-old Indian artist and ‘child prodigy’ Advait Kolarkar, who employs different shapes, intricate designs and bold splatters of intertwining lines, and avant-garde Dubai-based digital design collective Illusorr.

Central to the project is ABB Robotics’ PixelPaint technology, which has been used to mirror Advait’s swirling, monochromatic design, as well as Illusorr’s tri-colour geometrical patterns. Equipped with 1,000 nozzles in the printer head, ABB’s IRB 5500 paint robots completed the job in under 30 minutes, eclipsing the speed and accuracy that would be achieved by a human being.

Real world message being painted

Far from being a marketing or promotional stunt, ABB Robotics stress sustainability is at the heart of their art car. The PixelPaint technology removes the need for masking materials and extra ventilation, which could bring benefits including the lowering of emissions and a reduction in the use of water throughout the process.

Additionally, ABB Robotics’ RobotStudio software co-ordinates the process and ensures that all the paint allocated is used, negating any airborne misting as well as reducing time in the paint shop. The potential benefits for carmakers include increasing efficiency and enabling more scope for bespoke uses of paint design.

ABB Robotics sees the PixelPaint technology as complimenting individualism and demand for customisation within vehicle ownership trends and behaviour, particularly when it comes to exterior paintwork. The company singles out multi-coloured car painting as a traditionally laborious and costly process involving multiple stages of masking and unmasking, with this technology removing such issues, and allowing for a detailed, and exact replication of any design.

‘It is an example of how robotic automation and our RobotStudio software can not only pave the way for more sustainable manufacturing but can also perfectly replicate delicate pieces of art that celebrate the originality and beauty of the human spirit,’ said Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s robotics and discrete automation. ‘At a time when consumers want more customised products, PixelPaint is a game changer and allows any design to be replicated in a manner that is both sustainable and affordable.’

Influential designer, Ian Callum, responsible for the design of the Aston Martin Vanquish, and more recently the Jaguar I-Pace, underlined the importance of ABB Robotics’ project in relation to enhancing automotive enjoyment.

‘There is something very special about a car. People get emotionally attached to them and the importance of personalisation is becoming stronger and stronger,’ commented Callum. ‘In fact, I am working with customers who actually want the whole car designed in a bespoke way. So, this paint offering – with all sorts of new levels of individual design for a motor car – is incredible.’

This automotive collaboration isn’t the first-time art and the automotive world have linked up. Since 1975, BMW have teamed up with renowned artists such as David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Jenny Holzer as part of the BMW Art Car project. Full-size road and race cars have been painted by the artists in bold and striking designs, increasingly being used as marketing and historical assets by the German carmaker.