Currently reading: ABB creates first robot-painted art car
Robotics manufacturer creates art car with child artist Advait Kolarkar

John Lennon had his Rolls-Royce Phantom V painted with a personalised psychedelic design in the 1960s. A BMW Andy Warhol painted in the 1970s is now reportedly worth approximately £50 million. And now a robot has been taught to paint artists’ work onto a car. And that means car companies will soon be able to paint original art onto your new car, according to former Jaguar and Aston Martin designer Ian Callum.

“There are so many cars on the road, and you know, they’re all looking very similar, and people want personalisation,” believes Callum, who is famous for designing the Aston Martin Vanquish and Jaguar I-Pace.

“The offer in this paint is absolutely incredible, because it does offer a very individual look for any car, and a very personal look as well. Before it would be a complicated process of perhaps putting a wrap on it, which I always feel uncomfortable with. I think that real paint on a car is the way to go. So this is offering all sorts of new levels of individual design for a motor car. In fact, it’s incredible.”

ABB, whose robots build and paint cars in factories all over the world, has a new robot with 1000 nozzles in its paint head, able to paint complex designs in multiple colours. It has been tested at a secret facility and the prediction is that the technology will be in use in the next year or two.

ABB commissioned eight-year-old artist Advait Kolarkar – whose abstract works have sold for more than £100,000 and next week has his first solo show at an upmarket Chelsea gallery – and a metaverse digital design collective called lllusorr to create art for the robot to paint onto a recycled SUV.

Kolarkar, who has been named one of the world’s top 100 child prodigies, painted his monochromatic commission Zebra Utopia onto a canvas on the floor of his studio at home in India. He said he imagined Pegasus flying in a dreamland, but the mythical winged horse was black-and-white, like a zebra. It was then scanned for the robot to paint it onto the car.

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“I couldn't believe a robot was painting an artwork for the first time ever,” beamed Kolarkar as he saw the robot in action. “And it wasn’t just any artwork; it was my artwork. I think art and robots have a similarity. They both interact with the world, and they have the power to change the world for better."

Illusorr’s work is all created digitally, so they married their design to the form of the car on a computer. Motivation for their three-colour futuristic design came from the wind.

“The inspiration is inspiration from nature itself. The speed and the airflow around the car that has been created by the car’s movements,” said Illusorr co-founder Begüm Aydinoglu.

“You can paint on a car with traditional techniques, but some artworks require a robotic execution, because a human eye or human hands can't execute that kind of drawing level of complexity.”

ABB claims its Pixelpaint system is sustainable and will save paint and time.

Luxury car makers are likely to be first to add bespoke art painting to their list of profitable options. The new Range Rover, for instance, has thousands of personalised options.

“It could go beyond something that’s elite and something that’s very niche. I think you can go onto semi-mass market cars,” concluded Callum. “I can see this being applied to cars that you and I could buy. I think it’s extremely exciting.”

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Jeremy Hart

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Peter Cavellini 10 May 2022

Get your Car painted with whatever you choose is fine, but, what happens when you sell it?, it can't be removed can it?, if it can, what are the costs?, will it affect its trade-in value?, what's the chances of a car buyer liking the art design on the Car?, no, it's niche.