Automated Guided Vehicles


This chapter provides various aspects of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV). Starting from the history of the AGVs and list of leading manufacturers of various types of AGVs in the first two sections, the third section provides the structural framework of AGV and various supported technologies, followed by the benefits of using AGVs. After this, the various types of AGVs and their characteristics along with various other features are discussed. Next two sections discuss the various guide paths and guide path configurations of the AGVs, followed by various control strategies such as scheduling, routing and deadlock handling for the AGVs.
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1. Introduction

Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) is a computer controlled, typically battery operated mobile vehicle that runs without any on-board operator or driver, for transporting raw materials, semi-finished goods or finished goods in batched or mixed mode production environment. This means that AGVs handle the intra-logistics within an organization. The movement of the AGVs is made possible by lasers, magnets or any other kind of technology. In general AGVs follow markers or wires on floor or uses vision, magnets or laser for navigation purpose. The main functions of AGVs include:

  • Transporting materials, pallets and loose parts for production processes.

  • Temporary storage of material.

  • Distributing materials or semi-finished products to various work centers in a shop floor.

  • Retrieval of items from a work center.

  • Collecting parts for assembly.

  • Moving finished products to docks or storage.

Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) (“AGV Systems and Manufactures” n.d.) is generally used in industrial, commercial or public organizations. The study on Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) is essential for respective practitioners and Engineers since the use of AGV provides numerous significant benefits and at the same time, involves significant amount of cost such as the costs related to vehicle dispatch loading / unloading, product tracking, cost of central controller, multiple path provisions, complex host interface, Ethernet link, automatic coupling and decoupling (applicable for Tugger AGV), among many others. Therefore, an effective study increases the knowledge on AGV leading to more efficient control of these vehicles. Besides, the use of AGVs has some additional advantages such as:

  • The use of AGVs decreases labor cost.

  • AGVs are flexible in the sense that it can carry single or multiple loads.

  • AGVs are intelligent vehicles since it can take decision on path selection or direction depending upon the various constraints in the network at a particular point of time.

  • The use of AGVs is less time consuming

  • The use of AGV can reduce production and warehousing costs significantly.

However, before going into further detailed discussion of various aspects of AGVs, let us first take a glance at the History of AGV.


2. History Of Automated Guided Vehicle

The History of Automated guided Vehicles (AGV) started 60 years ago (Ullrich, 2015). The main market of AGV is concentrated in America and Europe. America has not been able to enter the European market but Europe has been able to enter the American market. However, the 60 years’ of History may be divided into four eras, namely, the first era over period 1953-1970; the second era over period 1970-1990; the third era over period 1990-2010; the fourth era over period 2010 – present.

Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) was first invented in 1954 by Barrett Electronics of Northbrook, by the name, Driverless Vehicle. At that time, it was simply a tow truck moving over a wired track (see Table 1 for description). In 1980, the vehicle received the official name, Automated Guided Vehicle. The following table (Table 1) shows a chronological overview of the history of AGV.

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