Towing Vehicles: The First Automaticlly Guide Vehicles
Towing vehicles, also known as tuggers, are one of the oldest forms of AGV, or automatically guided vehicle. As the name implies, the main purpose for these vehicles (which look like scaled down Zambonis) is to pull carts/trolleys carrying materials and/or goods to varies destinations in a factory setting. Depending on the towing AGV model, these AGVs can carry from 8,000 to 60,000 pounds. For teams of laborers to efficiently transport that size of loads would be practically inconceivable.
Tuggers carry an array of non-powered carts, including hospital carts, dollies, hand trucks, steer carts, maintenance carts, wagons and many more. I keep imagining Star Wars when referring to towing vehicles; particularly a scene when they protagonists are gathered in a docking or star-ship bay. I picture AGVs roaming around, delivering supplies to spaceships. I may be sub-consciously inserting these things into the film, but it seems like it would fit.
In order to navigate around a factory, a system or pathway is established for the towing vehicle to follow. These AGVs can not reverse, so a looping system is needed. At first I thought this was a disadvantage but thinking about it, towing vehicles don’t really need to reverse. There are usually a number of trailers/carts behind a towing vehicle, if it backed up these would probably crash into walls, shelves or what have you.
Anyways, someone would load up the trailers then send the AGV off to the next station. Here they might unload the trailers then reload them on with a more finished good. This could then be taken to a storage area and the AGV would return to the initial station, full circle. This eliminates the need to hire labor to move these objects. It is also more efficient and consistent.