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What is an Automated Guided Vehicle?

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  • Written By: Ryan Russell
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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An automated guided vehicle is a mobile robot that uses embedded markers or lasers to maneuver. These vehicles were originally designed for industrial purposes, specifically to lift and move materials. They are now used in many different industries for transporting purposes. These vehicles help increase overall efficiency and lower the costs associated with labor and manufacturing.

These vehicles are designed to carry large loads and tow materials behind them in containers they can attach themselves. These containers can be used to transport both finished and raw items. The vehicles can be attached to electronic conveyors, which items are able to slide off when needed. Automated guided vehicles use forklifts to pick up items for prolonged storage.

For facilities that use multiple automated guided vehicles at once, a traffic control system is needed. The methods for maintaining traffic control include forward-sensing control, combination control and zone control. Zone control relies on a wireless device to emit a signal to a specified area. Each automated guided vehicle gets a signal and communicates with the device. In an unoccupied area, a signal will be transmitted informing each automated guided vehicle that the area is open.

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Forward-sensing control uses built-in collision sensors to keep the vehicles from running into each other. This control can be utilized with an infrared detection capability or a physical bumper sensor. Most vehicles are built with bumpers in case the traffic control system fails. Combination control uses both collision sensors and zone control sensing. This combination decreases the likelihood of serious malfunction.

Those employing automated guided vehicles must have some means of controlling them to prevent chaos. The vehicles are controlled through three methods: a locator panel, cathode-ray tube (CRT) display, and a logging and reporting station. A locator panel is used to monitor which area an automated guided vehicle is in and for how long. The CRT display tracks the vehicle’s movements at all times and provides information pertaining to particular vehicles, including battery data. The central logging and reporting station is used to maintain records on all the vehicles.

Automated guided vehicle are used for a wide range of applications. They are commonly employed to transport raw materials to a warehouse or an assembly line. The robots are often used to transport pallets in manufacturing warehouses. They are also able to move finished products from the warehouse to the shipping facility before they are delivered to buyers.

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