Robotics & Mechatronics


3rd Quarter 2009 Robotics & Mechatronics

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and forklifts have become integral components in many of today’s manufacturing processes. AGVs find applications in factory floors for intra-factory transport of goods between conveyors and assembly sections, parts and frame movements, and truck-trailer loading/unloading.

To function properly, today’s AGVs require highly structured environments and reference markers installed throughout the plant. However, designing AGVs that can be used in unstructured environments has become an area of significant interest.

In order to meet the needs in this direction, a project titled, 'Mobility and Manipulation Project', has been initiated by the National University of Science and Technology (NIST) in the USA, in collaboration with the simulation community, AGV developers, researchers, and end-users. The main aim of this project is to develop a real/virtual system that will advance the state of autonomous robotic technology by allowing for the safe and efficient development of collaborative systems that work in unstructured environments.

The Mobility and Manipulation Project will develop performance measurement methods for autonomous assembly. The project is also aimed at providing the industry with standards, performance metrics and infrastructure technology to support semi autonomous and autonomous manipulators and vehicles.

Three projects – PerfSim Project, Mobility and Manipulation (MM) Project and the Mobility and Manipulation Performance Metrics and Standards Project – have combined to provide performance standards for manufacturing equipment and tools used in these applications and other advanced human-robot collaborative applications. The PerfSim Project will simulate the test bed environment for preliminary understanding of expected manufacturing equipment performance. The MM Project will develop performance measurement methods for autonomous assembly. The work will be carried out on a test bed, which will provide an integration environment for the other projects. The MM project will procure, install, and test a robotic arm suspended from a linear rail, ceiling mounted tracking system, conveyers, mannequins, robot vehicles, multiple sensors, and other equipment and apply them to advanced autonomous assembly operations. The Mobility and Manipulation Performance Metrics and Standards Project will measure the test bed performance as automated assembly scenarios develop.

For more information on Frost & Sullivan’s technical and market analysis contact Patrick Cairns, Frost & Sullivan, +27 (0)18 468 2315,,

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