AGV is abbreviation of Automatic Guided Vehicle. It is a vehicle that equipped electromagnetic or optical devices, and can move on the prescriptive routes automatically, and also has safety protection system and loading/unloading system. It is one of the important equipment in some Logistic or Material Flow system.
Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGV) has been in use since the 1950's. AGVs are driver-less industrial trucksusually powered by electric motors and batteries. AGVs range in size from carrying small loads of a few kilograms up to loads over 100 tons. The working environment may vary from offices with carpet floor to harbor dockside areas.
Modern AGVs are computer-controlled vehicles with onboard microprocessors. Most AGV-systems also have system management computers, optimizing the AGV utilization, giving transport orders, tracking the material in transfer and directing the AGV traffic.
Automatic load handling is used in many AGV-systems. The AGV can pick up and drop off pallets or transfer loads automatically using fork attachments, conveyors, lift tops etc. depending on the type and size of the load units to handle.
The early AGVs where built as tuggers, towing trailers, or shaped as platform vehicles. The only function was to transport. AGVs today can be equipped with robot arms and grippers and perform robotic handling functions. AGVs are also used as storage machines equipped with forks, handling loads in storage racks up to 10 meters in height or more.
Several methods of guidance and navigation can be implemented. The early AGVs where tracking an
inductive guide wire or an optical visible line, painted or made with tape on the floor. The inductive guide wire is still the most used guiding system for AGVs running on concrete floors, also for new installations.
Many companies and people have tried to invent the replacement for the inductive guide wire. In later years AGV guiding and navigation systems with laser scanners, microwave transponders, inertia gyros, ultrasonic sensors, embedded magnets, camera vision systems etc. have been launched. You name it.Some of the new types of guiding systems for AGVs are called free-range navigation systems. All guiding systems for AGVs requires however guiding references installed along or around the guide path, nothing is one hundred percent free. Some modern guide wire systems have the guide wires used only as static guidance reference and the AGVs can do many moves off the wire. The question of AGV navigation is always a question of the degree of freedom, and shall be taken in consideration in relation to system price and the costs for changes and maintenance of an AGV-system down the road. The drawback of many free-range navigation systems is that the software gets extensive and may become hard to maintain and change for other people than experts.