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Project Database
Project Reference: ITP/082/15LP
Project Title: Self-balancing Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) & Agent Control For Materials Handling In Warehouses
Hosting Institution: LSCM R&D Centre (LSCM)
Abstract: Autonomous Guided Vehicles (or moible robots) are commonly designed and used for surveillance. In many cases, special robots are designed and deployed to fulfill unique requirements and applications e.g. mobile robots for pipeline inspections, surgical robots and so on.

Warehouse robots aim to lift and carry the racks to designated locations in the warehouse. Each rack may carry numerous goods at 30-40Kg and 1.8M tall. They are likely operating at 1 - 3 m/s (or 3.6 - 10.8 Km/hr). The weight and height of the rack may lead to unstable conditions while the robot is moving in the warehouse. Any unplanned circumstance (e.g. the fall of some goods) will lead to warehouse downtime & money loss.

This project aims to design & construct a cost-effective AGV fleet for warehouse applications. It further aims to improve warehouse management efficiency and to retain competitiveness to logistics & warehouses industries in Hong Kong and PRD region.

The research tasks may include:- 1. Compact, high maneuverability, and sensor rich AGVs

2. Proximity sensors as well as other sensors for collision avoidance, data fusions, motion planning & control;

3. A self-balancing mechanism (inertia measurement & control) will be designed and installed to the AGV. The proposed mechanism is able to maintain 30-40Kg load subject to random & dynamic states;

4. An affordable agent-based and cooperative AGV fleet system to give beneficials to local (Hong Kong or Pearl Delta Region) warehouses. The methods include (i) A cooperative path planning using multi-sensor fusion techniques of agent robots; (ii) a real time collision avoidance capability, (iii) an integrated wireless tracking and a position sensing system for accurate positions and error-corrections.

Logistics or warehouse management are used to be labour-intensive. Due to the significant rise of labour cost and rent fee in Hong Kong & Pearl River Delta Region, a lot of logistics companies are moving to other SE Asia countries where the labour and land rental costs are lower.

Other translational research projects can be simply adopted such technologies. For examples:

(i) AGBs (autonomous guided buses) are deployed in electronic manufacturing factories to transport components/parts to different production cells;

(ii) Toys – a robotic football team, robotic music bands. The little robots are able to co-operate to perform different tasks per designed;

(iii) Public services – robotic library assistants to check library books whether they are on-shelves but at different locations.

Project Coordinator: Dr Ka Lun Fan
Approved Funding Amount: HK$2.8M
Project Period: 15 Dec 2015 - 14 Sep 2016
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