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AGV Guidance and Navigation Systems

Jun 05, 2023Jun 05, 2023

AGV guidance and navigation systems are an intricate part of automation and have come a long way since their inception.

Automation can improve machine performance, raise quality and quantity while reducing costs and errors in manufacturing. Production and efficiency are improved by introducing computer-driven mechanisms. AGV guidance and navigation systems are an intricate part of automation and have come a long way since their inception.

Automated guidance vehicles are actually mobile robots that are electrically powered and run on their own. They are guided by a computerized system that determines their movement with software applications. AGVs are powered by a battery or electric motor that enables the complete operation of warehouse loading, manufacturing, and other operations.

Every industry has its own requirements and uses for AGV and it is therefore important to consider the navigation or guidance system needed before AGV is implemented in your warehouse. The requirement dictates the functions and routes the AGV. There are a wide variety of navigation systems that are used to guide these robots. The navigation system will be determined by the path and is classified in:

A fixed path


The way an AGV calculates its current position ( It has to know where it is and where to go) is classified as:

Absolute: Vehicle knows it position at all times for example laser systems

Relative: The vehicle does not always know its location, a calculation from the previous position determines its position for example odometric systems.

Each type of system has its own benefits in the right area or environment. Let’s have a closer look at the main guidance system used in AGVs.

This is a fixed relative system where the AGV is fitted with a magnetic reader in the front that detects magnetic field fluctuation. Tape embedded on the ground creates a magnetic field to guide the path. The magnetic reader, wheel turning, scanners are all connected to a control unit that guides the vehicle into performing complex maneuvers. RFID cards are used in conjunction with the magnetic strip and are read at the same time. This enables the vehicle to:

Execute stops

Changes of trajectory

Take different paths, make stops

Charge battery

This system is a fixed relative system that is an optical vision-based. Through the use of cameras and sensors, the AGV acquires information about its environment and makes decisions. There are various types of optical systems, such as:

QR code recognition: Codes and reference points are arranged on the ground in advance with great precision. The AGV recognizes them and knows where it is and how far to move and the right detection or path to get to the next reference.

Ground guidance: The AGVs path is painted on the ground in a contrasting color to the ground. It is similar to the magnetic strip scenario.

3D cameras: This system provides the AGV with images of its surrounding environment in real-time. It adds values like distance intensity and confidence thresholds, allowing detection of landmarks and recognizing obstacles and relating it to a pre-loaded map.

Most of these systems combine odometric or inertial systems with optical information. This allows them to measure the displacement of the vehicle to maintain navigation when a reference point cannot be found.

John Hamlin is a freelance industrial manufacturing writer who creates content for a variety of websites, including IQS Directory. John's experience with industrial manufacturing research has lead him to create a wide selection of technical content including many aspects of autonomous vehicle development and production.

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