Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are one of the cornerstones in the automation of industrial processes, and their main fields of application concern scenarios with prominent material flows. AGVs are already used in assembly lines, warehouses, and production plants, while their use in other areas such as in hospitals or on construction sites is currently under development. AGVs exhibit several advantages compared to other kinds of logistics systems because they are more flexible, substitutable, and intelligent than other systems, occupy a smaller floor space, and require relatively small amounts of time and cost for their initial installation. Unfortunately, the immense potential of AGVs in terms of efficiency and flexibility has not yet been exploited because AGVs are frequently only used for relatively simple assignments such as the loading and unloading of goods in which only fixed guiding technologies are applied, for instance, magnetic or optical guidance. One main obstacle for further advancement are unsatisfactory means of sensing the environment of AGVs in connection with sensing the exact position, orientation, and pose of the respective AGV. Research in this direction is highly desirable. With this in mind, this Special Issue invites researchers to share their latest results which may contribute to developing improved sensing capabilities of AGVs. A connected main obstacle for further advancement is the complexity of the systems, their exponentially growing functionality, and the overwhelming data abundance, which lead to multiple possibilities for sensor, actuator, and process faults. As a consequence, an increase in fault-tolerance is mandatory, and intensified scientific discourse concerning approaches for fault-tolerant systems consequently represents a cornerstone for the successful development of future AGVs.
Prof. Dr. Ralf Stetter