Laser Guided Vehicles
Laser guided vehicles, also referred to as self-guided vehicles, are
unmanned, computer-controlled mobile transport units that navigate using
mounted laser scanners that emit a laser and reflect back from the
targets. Laser guided vehicle manufacturers program LGVs to drive along a
specific pathway and perform designated functions without a human
driver, and therefore more cheaply since less manual labor is involved.
Laser guided vehicles are becoming increasingly popular worldwide in applications that call for repetitive actions over a distance or for transporting extremely heavy loads. The application that a laser guided vehicle is used for depends on the type of vehicle. There are four main types of laser guided vehicles: high reach lift LGVs, fork LGVs, conveyor-bed LGVS and reel LGVs. High reach lift LGVs can carry up to 1200 kg are used for heavy pallet handling and pallet stacking up to 9m. Fork LGVs are used for pallet handling of one to four pallets and the regular delivery of stable loads. Conveyor-bed LGVs can carry numerous products simultaneously and are used for high speed sortation, material flow and transport, distribution and raw material handling. Reel LGVs are designed for use in transporting different types of reels. Industries that benefit from laser guided vehicles include retail, pharmaceutical, warehouse, aerospace, automotive, food processing, cosmetic and communications.
Automated guided vehicles have onboard microprocessors and usually a supervisory control system that helps with various tasks, such as tracking and tracing modules and generating and/or distributing transport orders. Since a laser guided vehicle can determine where it is, they are able to navigate any guide path network that is flexible and easy to program. The laser guided vehicle has advanced navigation capabilities and is able to navigate around objects along a programmed path and avoid collisions independently using laser beam sensors. Equipped with a laser scanner, or a one-dimensional camera, a laser beam is generated by a vertical laser in the scanner. The laser beam is then deflected by a rotating mirror at the top of the scanner, thus enabling the laser beam to scan the room at a fixed height. When the laser beam hits a beacon, or a retroreflective tape, a large portion of the light is then reflected back to the scanner. Next, the reflected light is processed so that sharp intensity changes can be found. When changes are found, the laser guided vehicle stores the bearing of the laser beam relative to a fixed direction of the scanner as well as the time when the reflection occurs. There are two types of lasers used in laser guided vehicles: modulated lasers, which give pulsed laser systems higher accuracy and a greater range due to a continuous fan of light; and pulsed lasers, which emit light in the form of optical pulses.