Keywords: 3D SLAM forklifts; driverless forklifts; automated handling solutions; autonomous navigation; obstacle avoidance; cargo recognition; 3D LIDAR positioning; high-precision localization; indoor forklifts; outdoor forklifts; industrial automation; labor cost reduction; logistics efficiency; safe operations; continuous forklift operations; scalable deployment; cost-effective navigation; enhanced productivity; industrial applications; value creation.
In the past, forklifts typically required an operator to perform material handling tasks. However, as businesses face challenges with labor shortages and high labor costs, AMR/AGVs are emerging as a new favorite in the material handling industry.
What is an AMR/AGV?
An AMR/AGV is a driverless, self-driving forklift. To enable automated operations, an AMR/AGV needs to possess various functionalities such as navigation, obstacle avoidance, cargo recognition, and automatic picking. Among these, navigation is the key to autonomous movement. In simple terms, an AMR/AGV needs to familiarize itself with the surroundings and create a complete map to “understand” the environment.
How is environmental perception achieved?
Currently, common navigation methods for AMR/AGVs include QR code navigation, reflector navigation, and 2D SLAM navigation. The first two methods rely on scanning and reflection principles for recognition, while 2D SLAM navigation utilizes a single-line LiDAR for environmental perception.
Why hasn’t AMR/AGV adoption been widespread?
The main reason is that in complex outdoor environments, 2D SLAM navigation can only detect the environmental information in a two-dimensional plane, resulting in limited environmental feature information and unstable positioning. It cannot adapt well to complex indoor and outdoor environments, especially outdoor environments. Moreover, the deployment of QR codes and reflectors is complex and time-consuming, prone to issues, and involves high maintenance costs. Scaling up these two technical solutions would result in high costs.
So, how can these problems be addressed? The emergence of 3D LiDAR SLAM positioning and navigation technology provides a solution.
As the primary sensor, 3D LIDAR, combined with data fusion from sensors such as an inertial measurement unit (IMU), odometry, and global positioning system (GPS), enables environment mapping and accurate positioning with the support of high-performance processors. Without the need for any auxiliary devices in the environment, a multi-line LIDAR can complete high-precision 3D environment mapping for areas exceeding millions of square meters, providing abundant environmental feature information and stable positioning capability. 3D LIDAR exhibits excellent resistance to light interference, making it suitable for various indoor and outdoor scenarios, regardless of daytime or nighttime conditions. This technology perfectly solves the problems of inability to use in outdoor environments, complex deployment, and high costs, making it an ideal choice for the autonomous forklift industry.
By introducing the 3D LIDAR SLAM positioning and navigation technology, AMR/AGVs have taken a significant step towards achieving automated operations. This technology overcomes the challenges faced by traditional navigation methods and provides a feasible solution for the large-scale application of AMR/AGVs.
With the proliferation of AMR/AGVs, businesses can enjoy numerous benefits. Firstly, AMR/AGVs can improve work efficiency, reduce labor costs, and achieve automated material handling and logistics operations. Secondly, AMR/AGVs possess high-precision positioning and navigation capabilities, enabling safe and accurate operations in complex environments, thereby reducing the risk of accidents. Additionally, AMR/AGVs can operate continuously for 24 hours, without being constrained by time or fatigue, further enhancing productivity.
With ongoing technological advancements and expanding application scenarios, AMR/AGVs will become a significant enabler in industrial automation and logistics. They will play a role in warehousing, manufacturing, logistics, and other fields, creating more efficient and safer working environments and generating greater value for businesses.
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