The History of AGVS
He developed a “track” for the vehicles to follow by imbedding a wire in the factory floor. The first guidance system was created when sensors on the bottom of a tow truck looked for a magnetic field. The field was created by a current running through a wire or series of wires in the floor. Station codes consisted of an array of magnets (north/south combinations) in the floor that a vehicle would read for stopping at a station.
AGV systems existed at this level of technology until the mid-seventies. The advent of solid state controls allowed the systems to expand in capability and flexibility. As a result applications exploded. Vehicles were not only towing trailers in warehouses, but they were also utilized in unit load delivery, work-in-process production systems, and automotive assembly systems.
Today the technology continues to evolve. The wire in the floor is still available for the proper application. However, many systems today are being designed without the floor wire. Vehicles are now equipped with sophisticated computers on board to communicate, direct, and manage the system. New vehicle configurations have also proliferated. The basic AGV towing systems still exists. However, automatic call systems, opportunity charging, automatic loading/unloading, and automatic coupling and uncoupling are now available for the right towing application.
Unit load systems have also been redefined from the earlier generations. Multiple load decks, parasitic drive systems, custom fixturing, and opportunity charging are now available.