The Missing Element

By: Ward Systems, Inc.

AGVs have been around a long time.  The manufacturers have used a lot of techniques to guide them.  Some work better than others.  The AGV world needs a better solution and it still isn’t here.  Everybody , end users and developers alike, want AGVs to be able to move super accurately and repeatedly on open floor; without adding physical details to the manufacturing space.  They don’t want to add non-virtual things like slits in the floor, painted lines or some form of tape.

A lot of work has been done in laser guidance.  From topography mapping (hallways) to scanning targets.  The topography mapping solution is expensive, computer/software heavy.  It doesn’t work on large open span manufacturing floors like aircraft factories where only 2% of the scannable items are fixed and are usually blocked by chairs tables tool boxes etc.

Target scanning works best on vehicles that are tall or have a view of the “sky” where there are less obstacles to block the targets.  It is difficult for carrier type vehicles that are under the payload and often have the payload overhanging the vehicle.

GPS would be great except the signals are hard to get indoors and are not accurate enough for the more exacting applications companies are trying to implement.

We all need a wireless radio-nav solution that is accurate, simple and inexpensive to implement.  It needs to be local, un-interfering and on a separate band than GPS.  This will probably be similar to the old VOR system of navigation used by aircraft until the advent of GPS.  It needs to be a system the allows the vehicle to triangulate it’s position very accurately from low powered antennas located in the facility.  I don’t have the answer, but I’m looking for it.  I hope somebody comes up with it soon.