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The Big Picture: Navigation Gets a Reboot for Automatic Vehicles

There’s a battle underway to win hearts and minds in the world of automatic guided vehicles (AGVs). In a word, it’s all about navigation.

Not long ago, every AGV system was guided by wires buried in the floor, laser targets on the walls, tape on the floor or in-floor magnets. But those established navigation systems have now been joined by on-board sensors including stereo cameras and LiDAR, two-dimensional lasers, three-dimensional lasers and a system called SLAM.

The impact of these new navigation systems has already been considerable, and that story is still young. Quite simply, AGVs that have always traveled a set path following a physical trail can now travel any path of their choosing without any physical trail at all. For the latest navigation systems, it’s all in the software, on-board sensors and lasers—talk about liberating.

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