An automatic guided vehicle (AGV), is an unmanned, computer-controlled
mobile transport unit used for material handling and transportation in a
wide range of industries. Also known as a self guided vehicle or self
propelled vehicle, an AGV is a vehicle that is powered by a battery or
an electric motor and is able to perform tasks without human supervision
AGV manufacturers program AGVs to drive to specific points and perform designated functions such as load transferring, small parts assembling, pallet loading and transportation, towing or lifting products and tooling change out, without the aid of a human driver. Autonomous guided vehicles are becoming increasingly popular worldwide in applications that call for repetitive actions over a distance or for transporting extremely heavy loads and are commonly used as alternative for fork lifts, conventional conveyor systems and manually powered push-pull carts. AGV systems provide great benefits in terms of increasing efficiency and reducing human error and varieties of AGVs such as material handling robots, automatic guided carts and transfer cars are used in place of manual labor for a number of applications. Automated guided vehicles are also commonly used as automatic guided military vehicles and armored vehicles in defense industries, or for clean room applications in which human presence may be undesirable. Industries such as aerospace, automotive assembly, general manufacturing, mail and newspaper, food and beverage processing and parts assembly all use types of guided vehicles to help improve work flow.
Many industrial manufacturing facilities use automated guided carts as an alternative to conventional conveyor systems. These vehicles, and larger AGVs, can transport cumbersome loads with relative ease and are able to move multi-ton equipment or materials such as aircraft engines or large metal coils, across the plant floor. Different models, which include forked AGVs, tuggers, towing vehicles and transfer cars, have wide ranging load capacities and design characteristics, such as material handling robot components. They come in varying sizes and shapes, according to their specific uses, load requirements and industry. Guidance systems used to direct automatic guided vehicles vary according to the complexity of the application and the required performance of the AGV. Some methods of guiding AGVs include the use of lasers. The laser guided vehicle has advanced navigation capabilities and is able to navigate around obstacles on a programmed path and avoid collisions independently using laser beam sensors. However, fixed path systems or free range systems are the most common options. Fixed path systems use embedded wire, magnetic tape or colored paint as a guide for simple vehicle routes. The AGV uses sensors and frequencies to follow the path of the wire or tape. These are reliable and fairly simple systems to install, however they have the drawback of inflexibility. Free range systems are far more common today and these use computer-based programming to control the vehicles with onboard microprocessors and a supervisory control system. The addition of computer programming helps with various tasks, such as tracking and tracing modules and generating and/or distributing transport orders.
Manufacturers of automotive guided vehicles program the AGVs for many different and useful maneuvers, such as spinning and side-traveling, which allow for more effective production rates. Some systems, especially those with a number of guided vehicles may require the assistance of a system operator to ensure that malfunctions and collisions do not occur. However, most of the simpler systems are capable of operating independently and will only periodically require adjusting or correcting. AGVs can do hard physical work without wear or exhaustion, eliminating human labor which would otherwise be costly and potentially hazardous. Loads that AGVs carry are far heavier than any single human could manage, which makes transporting heavy objects quicker and simpler than it would be with manual assistance. Corporations that use automatic guided carts and vehicles, such as factories, warehouses, hospitals and other large facilities, benefit from the power, stability and remote operating capabilities of automated vehicles. They are flexible and can be adapted to many different needs. Using automated guided vehicles often results in reduced labor costs to the manufactured as well as increased income due the improved efficiency of the output process. AGVs help give companies a competitive edge because they increase productivity and time efficiency. Using AGVs may also reduce wear to products and improve the safety on the factory floor as fewer machines and workers are prone to damage due to human negligence.
Purchasing AGVs often involves making large initial monetary investments, as most automated guided vehicles are manufactured with a number of costly materials and guidance systems. For highly specialized applications, the numerous customizations required by an AGV system could further add to the costs of fabrication and installation. Free range systems using complex computer software require a high amount of initial design, engineering and input which costs a manufacturer both time and money. However, the numerous benefits to implementing AGV systems, especially into larger scale manufacturing facilities and warehouses are numerous and companies and manufacturers often see a quick return on investment. As output production is increased and time and labor costs reduced, the efficiency of using AGVs is well worth the investment. AGV use is continuing to become more popular and manufacturers are finding ways to lower the costs of producing guided vehicles. They are designing smaller, more affordable models for applications and basic options are now more widely available. Research is on-going, and new developments on software and movement techniques are frequently being made.
AGV Manufacturers - Ward Systems, Inc.
AGV Manufacturers - Savant Automation, Inc.
AGV - America In Motion
AGV - Ward Systems, Inc.
AGV Manufacturers - JBT Corporation
AGV Manufacturers - JBT Corporation
automatic guided vehicles.
- are moving robots used in various industrial applications.
- consist of the computer, software
and technology that are the "brains" behind
the AGV. Without computer software systems and communications networks,
only the simplest AGV functions can be performed.
or ATVs, are robots used in industrial settings.
are used when precise guidance accuracy is needed, such as in crowded
environments and smaller sized facilities. An on-board
camera focuses and guides the AGV while performing.
- are used to pick up and deliver various loads, such as
pallets, carts, rolls and others. These can be manually driven as well
as used automatically, and have the ability to lift loads to many levels.
- use a magnet sensing
device, a gyroscope that measures the unit's heading and a
wheel odometer that calculates the distance traveled. Magnets mounted
beneath the floor are detected
by the on-board magnetic sensing device and combine with the first
two readings to give an accurate positional location.
- are used to transport heavier loads with
various transfer devices such as rollerbeds, lift/lower mechanisms
and custom mechanisms.
- use mounted laser scanners
that emit a laser and reflect back from targets. The vehicle's
location can be determined based on distance to the target and time
of reflection information.
a latex-based photosensitive tape on a facility's
floor for guidance. Distance is measured by use of wheel odometers,
which establish stop locations for the AGV along the course.
- have two horizontal stabilizing legs (outriggers)
to provide lateral support, and are used to handle pallets, rolls and
- are able to maneuver through crowded workplaces
through laser sensing, while transporting smaller loads.
capable of determining their own traffic control and routing without
necessitating a central controller.
used to pull trailers and are usually manned by an operator who adds
and removes the trailers at designated
can follow a basic loop or a more complicated path.
- use a charged wire that is
buried beneath the floor for proper guidance and has a small antennae
metal coils mounted on their bottoms. The stronger the field between
wire and antennae, the higher the voltage induced to the
- A control on
the sound and volume of the AGV that alerts the surrounding area when
it is in motion.
- A type of traffic control performed by
the AGV using detection sensors that allow for one vehicle to slow or
stop, then resume motion once there is a safe gap between machines. The
sensor housing on the AGV detects stopped and slower vehicles in front
of and behind it en route.
- Used for wireless
communication that gives the AGV instructions and information about traffic
- An AGV's battery recharge without the
removal of the battery itself. A copper plate in the floor makes contact
the conductor of an AGV overhead, activating a charge, and the AGV departs
once charging is complete.
- Displays information necessary
to operating the AGV system and keeps it operating efficiently.
- A device with
a joystick designed to manually operate the AGV as needed.
- The process of relocating or stocking
materials using an automated device such as an AGV.
- A device on some AGVs
that allows them to grab circular or cylindrical objects such as barrels
and place them wherever needed.
- Unit commands within the AGV system such as where
to go, when to start, slow down and stop. Within most AGV systems, the
basic communication methods are infrared, radio, guide wire data and
- Marks on the floor indicating where the AGV is supposed
to stop or change direction.
- AGV dispatch
that occurs from a nearby source, used for simpler systems. Onboard sensors,
keys and data couplers are
all examples of local dispatching controls.
- Wheels that, in addition to allowing
the vehicle to move forward and back, are capable of moving sideways
- The means by which
an AGV determines its calculated position and stop points. Laser, optical,
wire, camera and inertial systems
are types of navigation.
- A device that records the distance traveled. Wheel odometers
are often implemented on AGVs to determine position and speed.
- An ultrasonic sensor on an AGV that allows the
vehicle to slow down or stop when faced with an obstruction.
- A navigation system
that allows an AGV to select from a large number of pathways. Open path
systems are useful in crowded warehouses
and smaller facilities.
- When the battery of the AGV supplies power to
pickup and delivery stations, to make additional wiring unnecessary.
- A means
of communication that involves a central controller dispatching information
to the AGVs. Remote dispatching can
be done through an RF network (broadband or wired) or infrared communication.
- Usually a detection
sensor, designed to detect obstructions in front of and behind the AGV.
of the entire AGV system, including hours of runtime, transaction queue(s)
and parts and service records.
- A function of certain
AGVs that serves to pull or tow multiple items. Tug/tow AGVs are useful
for moving wheeled products such
as shopping carts.
of AGVs and their individual components. Common vehicle monitoring examples
are vehicle runtime, battery status
and error logs.
- Lights on an AGV
that flash in the direction of travel during an operation.
- A preventative
method controlled by an AGV system controller. Sections of guide
path that have zone blocking allow only one AGV to be in a particular
zone at one time.