Design of an obstacle avoidance system for automated guided vehicles
Most Industrial Automated Guided Vehicles CAGV s) follow fixed guide paths embedded in the floor or bonded to the floor surface. Whilst reliable in their basic operation, these AGV systems fail if unexpected obstacles are placed in the vehicle path. This can be a problem particularly in semi-automated factories where men and AGVs share the same environment. The perfonnance of line-guided AGVs may therefore be enhanced with a capability to avoid unexpected obstructions in the guide path. The research described in this thesis addresses some fundamental problems associated with obstacle avoidance for utomated vehicles. A new obstacle avoidance system has been designed which operates by detecting obstacles as they disturb a light pattern projected onto the floor ahead of the AGV. A CCD camera mounted under the front of the vehicle senses obstacles as they emerge into the projection area and reflect the light pattern. Projected light patterns have been used as an aid to static image analysis in the fields f Computer Aided Design and Engineering. This research extends these ideas in a real-time mobile application. A novel light coding system has been designed which simplifies the image analysis task and allows a low-cost embedded microcontroller to carry out the image processing, code recognition and obstacle avoidance planning functions. An AGV simulation package has been developed as a design tool for obstacle avoidance algorithms. This enables potential strategies to be developed in a high level language and tested via a Graphical User Interface. The algorithms designed using the simulation package were successfully translated to assembler language and implemented on the embedded system. An experimental automated vehicle has been designed and built as a test bed for the research and the complete obstacle avoidance system was evaluated in the Flexible Manufacturing laboratory at the University of Huddersfield.