Walk the Line

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Aug 1, 2014 10:17:33 AM

lineSince their inception in the 1950’s, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) have come a long way and as with most technology the costs keep coming down. Where once these mobile robots were guided using magnetic strips along the floor, improved technology has freed them from their restrictive path and allows them to discover and avoid obstacles that lay in their path.

Using a system of cameras or lasers, vision-guided AGVs navigate their way around warehouses, which means that routes can be changed quickly and easily by operators. To guide themselves around the warehouse they use Evidence Grid technology. Evidence Grid technology is probabilistic volumetric sensing which “uses probabilities of occupancy for each point in space to compensate for the uncertainty in the performance of sensors and in the environment itself” and was developed by Dr. Moravec at Carnegie Mellon University. Using stereo cameras, vision-guided AGV, use 360-degree images to build a 3D map of the environment. This allows them to learn and follow a route without needing to add special markers or other positioning systems.
If however cameras aren’t considered a necessary investment, geoguided AGV’s use an array of sensors to detect and identify objects such as walls, racks and columns within the warehouse to position itself and determine its route.
With GPS technology becoming more accurate it’s likely that in future GPS guided AGVs of all types and sizes will start appearing in outside locations such as dockyards and now that more industries can afford them and with their increased flexibility they may soon replace warehouse workers.

Topics: Did you know?, Trends

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