Mercedes replaces robots with people on its assembly line

Robots can't keep up with all the custom options.

Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We've all heard stories about how the robots are taking our jobs. While that may be true, Mercedes-Benz is replacing some of its high-tech workers with real live humans. As it turns out, robots can't keep up with the degree of customization that the automaker offers on its S-Class sedans. To be fair, there are four different types of caps for the tires alone, not to mention options for carbon fiber trim and temperature-controlled cup holders.

"Robots can't deal with the degree of individualization and the many variants that we have today," said the company's head of production Markus Schaefer. "We're saving money and safeguarding our future by employing more people."

The change comes at a time when a number of companies are replacing people with robotic devices. International Federation of Robotics (IFR) released a survey today stating that 1.3 million of the industrial robots will be in use by 2018. In fact, the number of those machines rose 43 percent in a year between 2013 and 2014. However, as Mercedes continues to expand the options available on its vehicles, the robots aren't able to adapt to new tasks. They're better suited for doing the same jobs repeatedly.

"The variety is too much to take on for the machines," Schaefer explained. "They can't work with all the different options and keep pace with changes."

Robots aren't getting the boot from Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen factory entirely, though. The machines will work alongside humans instead of being confined behind glass. Mercedes, BMW and Audi are all working on sensor-packed robots that can operate safely alongside their living breathing colleagues.