LiDAR-based scanning technology developed by SICK, can improve the performance of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) the company has claimed.
The firm’s NAV-LOC localisation solution dispenses with the need for reflectors or other physical markers and is said to enable AGVs to find their way around shop floor and warehouse environments more reliably and efficiently.
The technology is based on a SICK NAV 360o LiDAR scanner that can be integrated into new or existing AGVs. By recognising the pre-mapped contours of a factory or warehouse interior, the system eliminates the need for time-consuming and costly installation of reflectors, special paints, tracks, magnetic strips or coloured tapes.
The system uses precise 2D data from the SICK NAV310 LiDAR scanner to match its position to a reference map stored on a SICK SIM2000 Sensor Integration Machine, which is also mounted on the AGV. As the data is processed, a SICK algorithm continually compares the distances retrieved from the scan data with the reference map to provide position and orientation information to the AGV controller.
Setting up the NAV-LOC system begins by simply ‘teaching’ the on-board SICK LiDAR scanner prominent contour features, such as walls, large static machinery, racking or bays, as the AGV is driven manually around its working environment.
Then, this data is used by SICK Service to create a precise reference map on behalf of the customer or machine builder, before being uploaded on the SIM2000, and easily commissioned on-site using SICK’s SOPAS engineering tool.
Unlike conventional systems, the SICK NAV-LOC does not require numerous reflectors to be positioned in groups of threes along a route, to enable a laser scanner to triangulate its position. Tracks or magnetic strips installed in the floor or adhered to fittings, or special coloured or reflective lines, are also redundant. There is no risk of reflectors or paint being dirtied or obscured and there is no routine maintenance or route inspection needed to minimise possible AGV disruption.
“The introduction of the SICK NAV-LOC is an important step forward in the availability of contour-based localisation systems from SICK that promise more flexibility, lower cost of installation and maintenance for automated transport, stacking, and loading processes using AGVs,” said Neil Sandhu, SICK’s UK Product Manager for Imaging, Measurement and Ranging.