An important differentiating aspect of our automated guided vehicle solutions is the broad spectrum of state-of-the-art navigation technologies we offer to address your specific needs. This proprietary know-how is at the heart of our core competencies, which we consistently apply to the benefit of our customers. We are experts in the following navigation technologies:

Lead Track

This category of automated guided vehicle systems is based on the positioning of special strips or markings on or into the floor of the operating area. These markings precisely define the vehicle’s path. We have special expertise in three distinct lead-track approaches:

 

  • active-inductive
  • magnetic
  • optical 

 

Active-inductive

Electrically-conductive strips are affixed to or imbedded into the floor in layouts that define multiple operating zones, each of which can be activated and controlled independently, thereby providing high route flexibility and utility. Two sensors positioned under the vehicle detect the electrical current flowing through the strips. Differences in the readings between the two sensors signal deviations from the strip’s path, which in turn trigger steering corrections.

 

Magnetic

Magnetic strips, which are affixed to the operating floor surface to define the vehicle’s operating path, communicate with two to three magnetic-field sensors positioned in the undercarriage of the vehicle. These sensors in turn direct the vehicle’s steering mechanism.

 

Optical

uniquely-colored markings that are either painted onto the operating floor or otherwise affixed as textile bands serve to guide optical sensors in the vehicle’s base. Corner-detection algorithms and associated calculations are used to translate sensor information into instructions for the steering mechanism.


Free Navigations

  • Free navigation based on: magnetic-point referencing
  • Free navigation based on: laser technology
  • Free navigation: contour based navigation "SLAM"

 

 

Magnetic-point referencing

This approach is a popular free navigation enabler, which involves the anchoring of small magnets into the floor; navigation becomes “free” in the sense that the vehicle’s route is not defined by a physical path, but rather virtually, through the calculations of an internal processor and the use of the appropriately spaced floor magnets as reference points. The principle of dead reckoning is at the heart of the approach: vehicle positioning is calculated based on its prior known position, the distance traveled and direction of travel. Magnetic sensors on the vehicle detect the anchored magnets and, on the basis of field strength, calculate the absolute position of the vehicle. An odometer measures distance traveled and a gyroscope the direction of movement. An on-board computer cross-references all of this information with the known location of the magnets to make course corrections as needed.

 

Laser navigation

This technology is the state-of-the-art option in free-navigation and the main alternative to magnetic navigation. A rotating laser scanner atop the vehicle determines position by precisely measuring angles and distances relative to reflectors placed overhead on walls and pillars. Laser technology allows accurate measurement over great distances. As is the case with terrestrial navigation, at least three reflectors are needed to triangulate exact position.

 

Contour Based Navigation "SLAM"

Natural landmark based laser navigation is a technology capable of determining the current position of a vehicle without any kind of external infrastructure. No additional sensors are needed on the vehicle, since the central element, the already mounted safety laser scanner can be simultaneously used for both localization and safety purposes. The localization system is robust against disturbances such as the appearance of other vehicles, people and other dynamically moving objects within the area covered by its laser scanner. In order to further increase the accuracy of the localization system – e.g. in handover stations – it can be easily combined with other localization technologies such as magnetic or reflector based navigation.

Magnetic navigation

Laser navigation

SLAM

Contact Automotive

Contact Automotive

Kurt Ammerstorfer