Robots are being increasingly used to improve efficiency and productivity in manufacturing processes. While many people are familiar with fixed mounted robots, there have also been significant advances in mobile robot technology recently.
Mobile robots are able to carry loads between locations, and can do so 24/7 without rests or breaks. As the loads they convey can be hazardous, heavy or in hard-to-reach places, it’s highly desirable to automate this common but mundane and sometimes dangerous task.
AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) have been the most common mobile robot. They have fixed travel paths set out by tapes or other floor mounted markers. While they work well, AGVs are inherently inflexible due to their fixed, predefined path.
However, Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles (AIVs) are a far more flexible transport system. As their name suggests, AIVs are autonomous and are therefore able to chart routes for themselves. They do his by storing a digital floor map they have previously determined. They do not use fixed sensors or markers along their route.
Using a standard wifi connection, monitoring systems can plot locations, and when multiple AIVs are used, a central fleet management system can forward plan routes to ensure loads from various locations are transferred as efficiently as possible.
The environment AIVs work in is often highly dynamic, with temporary obstacles commonplace. AIVs carry localisation sensors to detect these obstacles and are then smart enough to dynamically plan an alternative course for themselves to circumvent obstructions.
Another big advantage is that AIVs are made with human collaboration in mind! Their sensors can detect moving objects, and can even playback voice synthesized messages to alert humans. They are a true “co-bot".