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The latest Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles have key advantages over Automatic Guided Vehicles, according to Omron’s automation technology product manager Chris Probst, who spoke at Foodpro.

Omron has classified its new LD Series mobile robots as self-navigating Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles (AIV), and Probst conducted a demonstration to highlight their advanced navigation features.

He explained that with traditional Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) vehicles, plant operators relied on the use of magnetic tape or other fixed-path technologies to steer vehicles on a pre-designated route.

“A typical AGV has a laser on the top and it looks for beacons around the workplace, so that is how it navigates,” he said.

“It works well, however there are some limitations. It is sensitive to tilting and it doesn’t have any obstacle avoidance, so runs along trained paths only.”

Along with this inherent lack of flexibility, they can also be costly to implement, and then demand ongoing investment when the tape or magnets eventually wear out. In comparison, the AIV could be up and running within 30 minutes to an hour, Probst said.

“There is no workplace retrofit required, no beacons, no tape, no facility modification. Also there is no need to train or reprogram new paths.”

To illustrate this, Probst demonstrated an AIV avoiding human obstacles in the seminar room, similar to those it might encounter in food production and warehouse environments.

The AIV picked new routes by scanning the environment and reassessing on the go, preventing the delays typical with traditional AGVs when path obstructions occur, and enabling them to operate far more smoothly in very dynamic environments.

“This is because the robot actually looks at the world and sees what is there right now,” he said.

Designed specifically for manufacturing, warehousing and logistics environments, the mobile robots are also able to work as a coordinated fleet, with numerous unit configurations available to suit a wide range of facility and warehousing tasks, said Probst.

A small fleet of automated vehicles also took a starring role at Omron’s stand.

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