Autonomous mobile robots are one of the fastest-growing parts of supply chain automation, as navigation, payload, and other capabilities continue to improve. Agilox today said that “swarm intelligence” enables its robots to operate with “completely decentralized autonomy.”
Austria-based Agilox Systems GmbH was founded in 2009 and has offices in 15 countries, including Agilox North America Inc. in Cumming, Ga. Its has designed and manufacturing automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and carts (AGCs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to deliver pallets and totes where they needed in factories and warehouses.
Over the past two decades, bio-inspired computing and swarm intelligence (SI) have attracted interest in almost every area of science and engineering, including robotics and artificial intelligence, said Agilox.
Agilox develops ‘intelligent guided vehicles’ in house
The company does all of its mechanical design, electrical engineering, navigation, and related software development in house. This allows for faster reactions to changing requirements and customization to meet customer requirements, it said.
Agilox claimed that its “intelligent guided vehicles” (IGVs) are completely independent, self-controlled, and can handle failover, recovery, and deadlock prevention. The company said its SI system is intended to provide real-time solutions to complex optimization problems in the most efficient way possible, often in ways that a human designer could never anticipate. The swarm can also handle unexpected changes in dynamic environments without any human intervention.
The IGVs automatically exchange information about their environment and the current work order situation with one another via Wi-Fi several times per second. Based on virtual transport costs, which each participant constantly recalculates for all pending orders, Agilox’s system can determine which vehicle should fulfill an order and which path that vehicle can take to fulfill that order in the shortest amount of time.
No additional infrastructure needed
Agilox noted that its mobile robots can help automate materials handling with with almost no overhead cost to the end user. They do not need expensive server systems, wires added under the floor, or reflector or beacon installations. The ISVs do not require any additional hardware, other than a conventional 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz Wi-Fi network and the charger. There is no software to install or maintain, no version numbers to keep up with, and no licenses with ongoing subscription fees, said the company.
In addition, Agilox said that once its first unit learns its environment and workflow details, the SI system becomes immediately “infinitely” scalable. Adding additional vehicles to the swarm to increase throughput is as simple as turning on the power and assigning an IP address. Within minutes, the new vehicle will automatically download all of its configuration information from the swarm and begin working with no additional commissioning or programming work or costs, it said.
Agilox said it applies the principles of its decentralized IGV system to its entire business model by providing customers with the training and the tools such as open interfaces to perform their own maintenance and expand or modify the system as they see fit.