Principal investigator: Philip Dames
University: Temple University
Industry partners: ASI Drives
The FRED2500 is an automated guided vehicle (AGV) designed and manufactured by ASI Drives, Inc. that is used to transport material in indoor settings, such as warehouses and stock rooms. The FRED2500 platform navigates by following a magnetic tape “roadway” laid out on the floor. This offers end users a simple installation process and does not require any special technical expertise. However, the material and labor costs of installation, maintenance and updating the system to account for new processes is non-negligible. Additionally, the tape can be damaged over time as the robot, people and other heavy equipment (e.g. forklifts or pallet jacks) move on top of it.
The project will develop a new set of capabilities for the FRED2500 platform, allowing it to autonomously navigate between gaps in the tape “roadway.” These gaps could either be unintentional (i.e. due to damage) or intentional. Intentional gaps can be added to reduce installation time and costs by striping a long straightaway (e.g. like dashed lane markers on a road) or to avoid having to frequently repair tape in high traffic areas where it is more likely to be damaged (e.g. near loading docks). This navigation capability will be based on two components:
- a module to build and maintain a map of “roadway” over time
- a module to autonomously navigate the AGV when no tape is present
This second module will follow the map if the AGV no longer detects the “roadway” or to drive in a straight line over long distances when it receives a signal indicating an intentional gap. The team at Temple University will prototype and develop the mapping and navigation modules and will work with ASI Drives to validate the system in a realistic, full-scale environment.