US20180357601A1 - Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts - Google Patents

Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts Download PDF

Info

Publication number
US20180357601A1
US20180357601A1 US16/106,583 US201816106583A US2018357601A1 US 20180357601 A1 US20180357601 A1 US 20180357601A1 US 201816106583 A US201816106583 A US 201816106583A US 2018357601 A1 US2018357601 A1 US 2018357601A1
Authority
US
United States
Prior art keywords
vehicle
location
pallet
sensors
inventory
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Pending
Application number
US16/106,583
Inventor
Charles J. Jacobus
Glenn J. Beach
Steve Rowe
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Cybernet Systems Corp
Original Assignee
Cybernet Systems Corp
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US13/836,305 priority Critical patent/US8965561B2/en
Priority to US15/439,301 priority patent/USRE47108E1/en
Application filed by Cybernet Systems Corp filed Critical Cybernet Systems Corp
Priority to US16/106,583 priority patent/US20180357601A1/en
Publication of US20180357601A1 publication Critical patent/US20180357601A1/en
Application status is Pending legal-status Critical

Links

Images

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/08Logistics, e.g. warehousing, loading, distribution or shipping; Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement or balancing against orders
    • G06Q10/087Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement, balancing against orders
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B66HOISTING; LIFTING; HAULING
    • B66FHOISTING, LIFTING, HAULING OR PUSHING, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR, e.g. DEVICES WHICH APPLY A LIFTING OR PUSHING FORCE DIRECTLY TO THE SURFACE OF A LOAD
    • B66F9/00Devices for lifting or lowering bulky or heavy goods for loading or unloading purposes
    • B66F9/06Devices for lifting or lowering bulky or heavy goods for loading or unloading purposes movable, with their loads, on wheels or the like, e.g. fork-lift trucks
    • B66F9/063Automatically guided
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B66HOISTING; LIFTING; HAULING
    • B66FHOISTING, LIFTING, HAULING OR PUSHING, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR, e.g. DEVICES WHICH APPLY A LIFTING OR PUSHING FORCE DIRECTLY TO THE SURFACE OF A LOAD
    • B66F9/00Devices for lifting or lowering bulky or heavy goods for loading or unloading purposes
    • B66F9/06Devices for lifting or lowering bulky or heavy goods for loading or unloading purposes movable, with their loads, on wheels or the like, e.g. fork-lift trucks
    • B66F9/075Constructional features or details
    • B66F9/0755Position control; Position detectors
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B66HOISTING; LIFTING; HAULING
    • B66FHOISTING, LIFTING, HAULING OR PUSHING, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR, e.g. DEVICES WHICH APPLY A LIFTING OR PUSHING FORCE DIRECTLY TO THE SURFACE OF A LOAD
    • B66F9/00Devices for lifting or lowering bulky or heavy goods for loading or unloading purposes
    • B66F9/06Devices for lifting or lowering bulky or heavy goods for loading or unloading purposes movable, with their loads, on wheels or the like, e.g. fork-lift trucks
    • B66F9/075Constructional features or details
    • B66F9/20Means for actuating or controlling masts, platforms, or forks
    • B66F9/24Electrical devices or systems
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05DSYSTEMS FOR CONTROLLING OR REGULATING NON-ELECTRIC VARIABLES
    • G05D1/00Control of position, course or altitude of land, water, air, or space vehicles, e.g. automatic pilot
    • G05D1/02Control of position or course in two dimensions
    • G05D1/021Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles
    • G05D1/0231Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using optical position detecting means
    • G05D1/0246Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using optical position detecting means using a video camera in combination with image processing means
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05DSYSTEMS FOR CONTROLLING OR REGULATING NON-ELECTRIC VARIABLES
    • G05D1/00Control of position, course or altitude of land, water, air, or space vehicles, e.g. automatic pilot
    • G05D1/02Control of position or course in two dimensions
    • G05D1/021Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles
    • G05D1/0268Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using internal positioning means
    • G05D1/0274Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using internal positioning means using mapping information stored in a memory device
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05DSYSTEMS FOR CONTROLLING OR REGULATING NON-ELECTRIC VARIABLES
    • G05D1/00Control of position, course or altitude of land, water, air, or space vehicles, e.g. automatic pilot
    • G05D1/02Control of position or course in two dimensions
    • G05D1/021Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles
    • G05D1/0231Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using optical position detecting means
    • G05D1/0238Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using optical position detecting means using obstacle or wall sensors
    • G05D1/024Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using optical position detecting means using obstacle or wall sensors in combination with a laser
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05DSYSTEMS FOR CONTROLLING OR REGULATING NON-ELECTRIC VARIABLES
    • G05D1/00Control of position, course or altitude of land, water, air, or space vehicles, e.g. automatic pilot
    • G05D1/02Control of position or course in two dimensions
    • G05D1/021Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles
    • G05D1/0276Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using signals provided by a source external to the vehicle
    • G05D1/0278Control of position or course in two dimensions specially adapted to land vehicles using signals provided by a source external to the vehicle using satellite positioning signals, e.g. GPS
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05DSYSTEMS FOR CONTROLLING OR REGULATING NON-ELECTRIC VARIABLES
    • G05D2201/00Application
    • G05D2201/02Control of position of land vehicles
    • G05D2201/0216Vehicle for transporting goods in a warehouse, factory or similar

Abstract

A system for automated inventory management and material handling removes the requirement to operate fully automatically or all-manual using conventional vertical storage and retrieval (S&R) machines. Inventory requests to place palletized material into storage at a specified lot location or retrieve palletized material from a specified lot are resolved into missions for autonomous fork trucks, equivalent mobile platforms, or manual fork truck drivers (and their equipment) that are autonomously or manually executed to effect the request. Automated trucks plan their own movements to execute the mission over the warehouse aisles or roadways sharing this space with manually driven trucks. Automated units drive to planned speed limits, manage their loads (stability control), stop, go, and merge at intersections according human driving rules, use on-board sensors to identify static and dynamic obstacles, and human traffic, and either avoid them or stop until potential collision risk is removed.

Description

    REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/439,301, filed Feb. 22, 2017, the entire content of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates in general to material handling systems, and more particularly, to a method and system for transporting inventory items within an inventory system.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Modern inventory systems, such as those in warehouses, superstores, mail-order, and e-commerce warehouses and larger manufacturing facilities, use gantry storage—and retrieval (S&R) systems that require dedicated space and large capital investment or vertical pallet stacking on shelving served by manually driven fork trucks. The former provides fast, accurate responses to requests for inventory items but is a large integrated capital investment. On the other hand, manual forklift vertical storage systems can cause delays and backlogs in the process of responding to inventory requests, and furthermore require drivers and loaders and their salaries, benefits, and management burden.
  • Historically, inventory systems are based around high vertical storage using pallet stacks or pallet stacks on shelving units. This arrangement offers a compromise between easy access and 3 dimensional storage to reduce floor space. This type of storage is accessed by forklifts of various configurations. The typical way this type of 3 dimensional storage is automated is through gantry style S&R units that provide three dimensional access to the pallet storage locations along a fixed set of travels (row selection, perhaps through an automated conveyor; column selection with a pallet transport device moving along a preplaced rail, and vertical pallet retrieval or storage along an elevator lift mechanism).
  • The type of automation just described is expensive, requires rework of the entire storage/retrieval space, and is an all or nothing proposition—one cannot practically partially automate a space—it either is automated or remains manually retrieved with forklifts. Furmans, et al. (“Plug-and-Work material handling systems.” 2010 International Material Handling Research Colloquium, Milwaukee, USA. 2010) provides an overview of the current state of the art, and suggests modularizing S&R functionality as a means to improve it. As an illustrative example, the SmartRack and the KARIS Flexconveyor provide a computer controlled roller conveyor segment mounted on an autonomous material handling robot platform.
  • Solutions to the existing lack of flexibility in this field are addressed in various U.S. Patents assigned to Kiva Systems. In the Kiva system, the normal storage shelves with pallets stored at fixed positions is replaced by what Kiva refers to as inventory holders. These items are basically risers upon which pallets or other items (for instance shelves or work stations for package integration operators) can be placed so that they are up off of a flat transport surface normal the warehouse floor. The inventory holders are loaded at an incoming area, usually manually or via some kind of lift assist (forklift).
  • What Kiva refers to as a mobile unit—a small four wheeled mobile robot—moves under the inventory holder. Using a lift elevator attachment, the mobile unit lifts the inventory off of the support surface, and moves to the destination storage location. In many uses of the system, this could be any empty location over the warehouse floor that can be remembered and recalled by an inventory location database. At the destination location, the mobile unit lowers the inventory holder and is then schedule to execute its next pick-up and place operation. Retrieve works the same ways but in reverse. A mobile unit goes to the pick-up location in the storage array, lifts up the selected inventory holder, brings it back to a work cell or packing area, and places it down to await the next pick and place operation.
  • The advantages of Kiva's system is that storage area can be allocated as a dynamic buffer, and S&R performance can be optimized both by storage layout and by the number of mobile units acting in the system. By using standardized holders, the mobile units only need to implement a single and very simple lift elevator. By dividing the storage space into grids, and labeling at least some of the grids with location barcodes on the floor (Kiva calls them fiducials), centralized control of very simple mobile robots becomes feasible by block reservation and relocalization each time a unit passes over a barcode. Robot unit sensing devolves to being able to count distance and 90 degree turns and periodically detecting and locating a ground placed fiducial labeled so that the system can easily identify its location relative to that fiducial within the warehouse location grids. Path planning and collision avoidance is handled through the central controller by reserving the next grid any particular mobile unit plans to traverse, or waiting for that grid's currently occupying unit to move out of the grid (i.e. the requesting unit waiting for the grid reservation request to be satisfied or completed before moving into it).
  • The Kiva approach has several disadvantages. First, like a 3D gantry S&R unit, it is an all or nothing proposition—one cannot easily mix manual operated lift units with either of these automated concepts in a shared common area. Manual transport devices or people are not equipped with the sensors or controllers to reserve grids so are invisible to the central transport scheduling system. Kiva mobile units might be seen by people or manually controlled transports, but mobile units are not equipped with the sensing required for them to see the manually controlled assets. Therefore safety and collision avoidance cannot be assured in mixed operation. This means that in operations that uses conventional lift trucks or mix inventory storage with shopping (for instance the super stores like Home Depot or Sam's Club where product is stored in vertical shelving, placed there by lift trucks, but selected by people that walk around the aisles) cannot easily mix with the Kiva S&R system. Also Kiva is basically a 2 dimensional system that requires large ground footprints. In urban areas where land is more expensive, this might be too costly and low density.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention improves upon existing warehousing and inventory systems by facilitating operation in high density, 3 dimensional storage spaces like a gantry or lift truck system, while supporting gradual or incremental implementation of full automation. As such, the invention mixes and interoperates with manual lifts and individuals performing pick and place (or shopping), thereby enabling productivity increments that gantry and Kiva-type systems bring to fully manually operated S&R (storage and retrieval). The new technology promises to be lower in cost per unit volume moved compared to either manual or automated S&R.
  • The invention is based on the fact that robotic technology can operate a mobile lift unit. However, this idea is extended by providing an automation kit for conventional lift trucks and mobile transport units. This automation kit is endowed with the same capabilities as a human driver which knows the warehouse layout (and operational areas between or outside of warehouses) through an internal digital map. This includes where storage shelves are, how they are addressed, and where travel lanes or roads are (including intersections and traffic control conventions).
  • The automated lift can sense pallets or load positions, can read pallet identifications (barcodes, RFID, printing), can identify moving and fixed obstacles, and can plan from-to paths through using data in the warehouse map. Based on sensing behavior, the automation kit can obey human-like driving rules (for instance, maintain spacing with the moving object in front, stop at intersections, use the right-first rule when multiple vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, drive around stopped obstacles safely, stop for pedestrians who cross the travel area intersecting the lift's travel route, etc.).
  • With automated lifts and transporters as our basic building block, we can integrate the S&R system as a scheduling system that can work like and potentially directly integrated into a pre-existing manual warehousing system. The S&R controller converts incoming inventory requests (pick-up or placement requests) into (a) selection of a free automated or manual lift; (b) transmission of the pick-up and delivery location (based on a location in the map database) to either a human driver (via voice, display or traveler slip directive) or an automated lift (via the to-from mission plan); and (d) execution by the manual or automated lift of the pick-from place-to mission plan followed by return to its staging area (or immediate acceptance of the next inventory request mission).
  • Because both manual and automated mobility systems operate according to the same behavior and safety rules and operate through comparable sensing systems, both robotic and manual lifts can interoperate over the same shared space. This allows the warehouse operator gradual migration to fully automated operation, reducing both initial capital and operating costs and managing capital investment rate. The concept supports especially well stocking and restocking of superstores, where pallets are available to shoppers during normal store houses, but can be restocked either through manual or automated lifts during off-hours.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 shows a message flow between system controller modules;
  • FIG. 2 shows a warehouse or site map components;
  • FIG. 3 shows a lift truck automation showing rear wheel Ackerman steering;
  • FIG. 4 depicts two platforms with no forks and skid steer;
  • FIG. 5 shows a platform with steer by rotation at the vehicle waist;
  • FIG. 6 shows lift truck collision detection sensors;
  • FIG. 7 illustrates lift truck pallet/lot identification sensors;
  • FIG. 8 shows automated lift control hardware architecture;
  • FIG. 9 shows an automated lift control software architecture;
  • FIG. 10 shows potential obstacles (darker thick lines) as range measurements plotted to a truck centered polar coordinate space;
  • FIG. 11 shows replanning due to partial aisle blocked;
  • FIG. 12 illustrates replanning due to complete aisle blockage;
  • FIG. 13 shows narrow spaces maneuvering; and
  • FIG. 14 shows a location sensor fusion.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • This invention resides in an automated material handling, transporting and inventory management system that removes the requirement to operate fully manually using conventional vertical storage and retrieval (S&R) machines (i.e. forklifts) or fully automatically (S&R gantry type system or managed floor space systems with inventory holders and mobile drive units). The approach assumes concurrent use of conventional lifts and similar transport platforms, some equipped with automation to operate safely along with manually drive lifts into and out of the warehouse.
  • The invention is based on automated inventory control requests similar to those that drive gantry S&R systems, the Kiva Systems inventory holder, and mobile unit S&R systems. But higher efficiency and responsiveness is achieved by combining conventional lifts and pallet shelving units, emerging automated drive technology applied to at least some of these lifts, and an automated S&R database and controller system.
  • Because we implement through the existing and mature vehicle and storage space approaches that support gradual installation of the automation and interoperability between manned and unmanned vehicle units, our approach is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Furthermore, by utilizing a true 3-dimensional vertical space storage architecture, our systems provide superior space efficiency. Also because lift trucks typically have larger capacity that do small mobile robot units, fewer trucks can do than same work as many more smaller robotic units over the same work period.
  • In accordance with the invention, inventory requests (requests to place palletized material into storage at a specified lot location or requests to retrieve palletized material from a specified lot) are resolved into missions for autonomous fork trucks, equivalent mobile platforms, or manual fork truck drivers (and their equipment) that are autonomously or manually executed to effect the request. Automated trucks plan their own movements to execute the mission over the warehouse aisles or roadways sharing this space with manually driven trucks. Automated units drive to planned speed limits, manage their loads (stability control), stop, go, and merge at intersections according human driving rules, use on-board sensors to identify static and dynamic obstacles and people and either avoid them or stop until potential collision risk is removed.
  • These automated trucks have the ability to execute task specific behaviors as they progress along the mission, including visiting palletizing/depalletizing, refueling, or other locations in the order defined by the mission, driving into or through tight openings using sensor-based driving guidance algorithms, and performing pallet finding and engagement and disengagement onto pallet stacks and into shelving units. Automated trucks also can identify pallet locations and pallet identification codes by standard commercial means including but not limited to RFID, barcode, UID, optical characters on printed labels through computer vision/camera, and RF code readers. Each automated truck can be placed into manual drive mode at anytime, and along with unmodified manual fork trucks can be driven over the shared space concurrently used by automated trucks.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates message flow between system controller modules. A system controller for a warehouse or multiple warehouses comprises the following digital modules or components:
  • Database of inventory stored (1)—This is a database that stores information including but not limited to the following items:
  • 1. Lot identifier—Lots are collections of material of the same type stored in one or more locations consisting of one or more pallets;
  • 2. Pallet identifier—Identifiers that combine with the lots number to uniquely identify each pallet;
  • 3. Lot locations—Location of a lot in warehouse or site map coordinates (Warehouse number and X, Y, Z relative to the warehouse point of origin);
  • 4. X, Y, Z coordinates (measurement from the warehouse or site origin in meters, feet, or any other convenient measure); and
  • 5. Pallet locations—the relative X, Y, Z to a pallet from the beginning of the lot location.
  • Map Database of the warehouse(s) or site (2). Reference is made to FIG. 2, which shows a warehouse and site map components, defined as follows:
  • Path segments.
  • a. List (7) of X, Y way points (8) in sequence that can be smoothly connected with curves or lines (9) to represent a path a vehicle is allowed to drive—For inside warehouse (10) applications these will normally be in the same coordinate space as lot and pallet locations. For outside of warehouses on connecting parking lots or roadways these may be latitude or longitude. Any convenient set of coordinates covering the space can be used with appropriate coordinate conversions applied.
  • b. Way points may also include specification of a truck orientation. If so this orientation must be achieved as part of achieving the way point location.
  • 2. Area sections.
  • a. List of (11) X, Y way points (12) in a sequence that can be smoothly connected with curves or lines (13) to enclose an area (14) within which a vehicle is allowed to freely drive—As with paths segments these can be defined inside or outside of a warehouse.
  • 3. Checkpoints (15)
  • a. Any way point in a Path segment or point defined on the boundary or within an Area section with additional behavior invoking properties when a vehicle is at or near it. Examples:
      • i. End waypoints of a Path segment may be designated as checkpoints having intersection properties such as 4-way stop, 2-way stop, merge from lower priority segment into higher priority segment while yielding to cross traffic, etc. (16) shows an example intersection and its checkpoints.
      • ii. Speed limit—from this checkpoint until further notified, reduce speed to the specified limit (17)
      • iii. Pause—Stop at the checkpoint and wait for some event, example: manual loading or unloading operation (18)
      • iv. Destination—Where a load is to be delivered (typically also Pallet location)—(19)
      • v. Pick-up—Where a load is to picked-up (also typically also a Pallet location)—(20)
  • b. Checkpoints may also include specification of a truck orientation. If so this orientation must be achieved as part of achieving the Checkpoint location.
  • Databases of automated/manual lifts (or other transport vehicle)—(3)
  • 1. Current vehicles—(4)
  • 2. List of active vehicle mission plans—vehicles assigned to an inventory request
  • 3. List of vehicle status
      • a. In use
      • b. Operational, not in use
      • c. Nonoperational
      • d. Tracking data (progress against the mission plan derived from the inventory request)
  • Inventory request server—(5)
  • 4. Accepts an inventory request of the following types
      • a. Pick-up pallet at specified pallet location, and
      • b. Stow pallet at specified pallet location
      • c. May also support other special requests like:
        • i. Proceed to refueling station
        • ii. Proceed to parking location
        • iii. Proceed to workcell for preventative maintenance
        • iv. Other
  • 5. For each inventory request:
      • a. Select a truck that is “Operational not in use”
      • b. Build a mission plan for the Pick-up and Stow operation
      • c. Send it to the truck
        • i. As a digital mission plan to automated trucks
        • ii. As a human readable traveler to manual trucks
      • d. Monitor operation
        • i. Update automated lifts database (truck becomes “In use”)
        • ii. If truck failure occurs during the mission, notify operations personnel to diagnose and potentially manually drive failed lift back to maintenance—update automated lifts database (truck becomes “Nonoperational”)
  • 1. Automatically re-issue inventory request so server reassigns new vehicle and issues new mission to accomplish the request
        • iii. At pick-up, truck identifies and engages the specified pallet from the lot
  • 1. System controller relieves Lot and Pallet inventory database of pallet engaged and now in transport
        • iv. At delivery, truck verifies delivery location and disengages the pallet for delivery
  • 1. System controller updates Lot and Pallet inventory database of pallet disengaged and delivered
        • v. Upon mission complete, update automated lifts database (truck becomes “Operational not in use”)—Manual mission complete is signaled when drive signals traveler is completed (through any manual means in common use).
  • Inventory server to enterprise ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning system) systems—(6)
  • 1. Interfaces pick-up and delivery requests from the ERP into the Inventory server
  • 2. Interfaces pick-up and delivery status and completed for each request from the Inventory server to the ERP
  • Through an automation kit outlined in FIGS. 8 and 9, we replace the manual operator of a standard lift truck of the type shown in FIG. 3 or any alternative configuration. This unit shows control of forward/reverse speed (21) Ackerman rear wheel steer (22), Forward/reverse tilt to the mast (23), side shift of the forks (24), and raising/lowering of the forks (25). Shown to the right is an additional attachment that supports operations in very narrow aisleways by allowing the forks an additional side shift (26) and rotation (27) so that pallet can be acquired + or −90 degrees offset from the lift truck's normal forward orientation. Additional manipulation degrees of freedom might be available from alternative tuck types.
  • For simple pick-up and place applications, where external lift systems load or unload the pallet external to the automated vehicle, the vehicle might provide a pallet attachment point (28) but no forks as shown in FIG. 4. The base mobility platform provides a means of steering (Ackerman as shown in FIGS. 3 (21) and (22); skid (29) and (30) as shown in FIG. 4, at the waist (31) as shown in FIG. 5, or any other alternatives) and apparatus for controlling speed (either through braking or accelerator speed controls or both). The base platform may be powered by electric, internal combustion (gasoline, LP or natural gas, diesel) or any alternative mechanism. Power mode makes very little difference to the invention, except that electric power can be switched on, and must provide apparatus (a parking checkpoint or destination) for electric recharge periodically. Internal combustion powered units benefit from an engine and fuel type specific start-up sequence and periodic refueling processes at the designated refueling checkpoint.
  • FIG. 6 depicts a representative sensor suite required to detect people and obstacles in the local area around a lift truck operating in autonomous mode. The sensor suite is tasked with the responsibility for detecting objects not predicted in the maps within a safe stopping distance depending on forward or reverse speed. To accomplish this, laser radar 3D measurement devices sweep the area before and behind the lift. In the back this is done scanning from a height comparable to the head/eyes (32) of a manual operator, sweeping out a wide angle vertical and horizontal solid angle (33). Placing the sensor lower may constitute a potential collision risk from behind and it is possible to get 3 dimensional measurements closer to the tail end of the truck with this geometry.
  • In the front, two laser sensors are shown in FIG. 6. One is mounted on the mast near the floor (34). This unit can be scanned up and down a small angle by tilting the mast forward and reverse (35). This sensor is primarily tasked with detecting forward driving obstacles, but can also be used to find pallets and pallet stacks. A second sensor is fixed to the fork elevator (36) and sweeps a half cylindrical area (37) as the lift moves up and down the mast. This sensor is tasked primarily for detecting pallet fork openings and the top pallet in a pallet stack, but it too can aid system in sensing obstacles when driving forward. Note that between these two sensors the automated truck has almost 100% unobstructed obstacle visibility. This is far superior to a human driver's visibility because he/she has to sight through the front forks.
  • On a fork truck of the type shown, extreme steering action also causes the backend of the truck to swing out. Therefore inexpensive collision sensors (38) are added to both sides of the truck in the rear to detect possible collisions due to this swing action. While collectively these range sensors provide better visibility than a human driver would have, their placement and number is both automated lift vehicle dependent and constrained by target automation kit cost. For instance, a truck that works in a “lights-out” area that is restricted to unplanned actors (for instance, manually drive trucks and pedestrians) could operate strictly with the one range sensor mounted on the fork elevators to find pallet stack tops and pallet lift holes only. Devices with different mobility, visibility, and lifting capabilities would certainly mount these sensors in different places. The configuration described in the preferred embodiment supports trucks of the type shown and in an environmental where the intention is to mixing human and automated performers.
  • FIG. 7 shows placement of several video based sensors used to find and read a pallet identifier. The top camera (39) images the entire side of the pallet (40) and uses image processing to identify the gross placement of the bar code, UID, Character notations (OCR) or other identification markers. Then the two smaller field cameras (41) are used to hone in and read the code identifier at sufficient resolution to achieve reliable code deciphering. Alternatively, or in addition, these sensors could include a short range RFID reader or any alternative pallet identification method. An advantage of using cameras is that they can also be used to place roadway or path segment signage up in the warehouse.
  • FIG. 7 shows a two dimensional barcode type (42) that is in the public domain [Artool Kit, 2012] that can code both content data (the internal bit pattern codes the content) and location of the lift truck relative to the sign placement location. For this code a camera (43) and simple image processing algorithm finds the black square frame, and especially the location of its corners. It then reads the internal bit pattern adjusted for perspective skew. If the deciphered code is “correct”, i.e. can be validated as having been assigned to a known location, its location when added to the offset from the code to the lift truck provides the truck automation controller an exact fix within the warehouse area. These codes could also be placed on the floor as easily as anywhere other known location in the warehouse. Additional details are provided in the truck localization discussion.
  • FIG. 8 shows the automation control kit hardware architecture applied to automate lift trucks or transporter vehicles. The current preferred embodiment is adapted to larger rugged terrain lifts, warehouse forklifts, two alternative pure pallet transporter vehicle platforms, and is adaptable to automobiles and trucks in general. This kit supports virtually any type of skid steer or Ackerman drivable vehicle or mobile platform with an attached lift, adaptable to a pallet carrier, or alternative payload. FIG. 9 shows the logical control software system modules and data flow that operate within the hardware architecture.
  • The warehouse(s) system (45) controller receives inventory store or retrieve requests (44) from a loading dock operator, an enterprise ERP, a worker as a depalletizing stations, or enterprise-specific alternatives. The system controller (45) looks up availability to support the request (either availability of an empty storage slot for storing pallets or availability of inventory for in-stock items), and its source and destination locations (for instance for a store the source is a loading dock parking space and the destination is the storage slot assigned to the pallet) in the Lot and Pallet Inventory Database (1). It then assigns an unassigned lift truck to this operation, updating its status in the Lifts Database (3).
  • The assigned truck Automation Controller (46) receives the mission plan (47) over the local communications link (48), which is to move from the current location to the source location, find, identify, and engage the pallet (or in the case of a truck without a lift, wait for the pallet to be loaded onto the truck), and then proceed to the destination location. When the destination is reached, the mission continues with identification (49) of the storage slot including identifying the lot, finding the shelf location of the pallet stack, finding the top of the pallet stack, and disengaging the pallet at that location (in the case of a truck without lifts, a simpler logic, which is to wait to be unloaded is substituted).
  • At that point the mission is complete, and the truck signals complete to the warehouse controller, which, in turn, updates to Lot and Pallet Inventory Database (1) to log the location of the pallet, and updates the automated vehicle status in the Lifts Database (3) putting that truck back into the freed or unassigned pool. The same operation can be assigned to manually controlled lift operators through man-readable travelers. Manual operators perform essentially the same operation over the same storage space, and then notify the warehouse controller of mission complete and can also then be reassigned to a new operation.
  • To accomplish the mission the truck operates a Mission (route) planner (50) over the Maps Database (2) that selects the preferred route from the current position to the source or pick-up location and later from the pick-up position to destination or the drop-off position (in an alternative embodiment, this planning might alternatively be done by the warehouse system controller as part of its mission plan sent to the assigned truck).
  • This drive route plan (51) is a connected graph of free drive points from locations within areas to area exit checkpoints, to path segments on roadways, to final pallet stack locations, and may include attached behaviors that are invoked based on current point of execution in the plan. The assigned lift for the mission (which is the drive route plan (51)) is the one closet to the source location and unassigned. The driving plan is generally selected to minimize drive distance from current location to source to destination. The execute hierarchy is to decompose the plan into a series of behaviors (52), some of which drive to checkpoints (53). The drive from checkpoint to checkpoint breaks down into traversal of Path segments (54) or Area sections (55). Since the drive plan is a list of segments or areas, which are defined as a string or list of waypoints (8)(12), the truck drive to way point function (56) generates intermediate points between the waypoints automatically through a smooth curve fitting algorithm to fill in gaps in the waypoint data. The drive-by-wire (57) control maintains commanded speeds, steer angle controls, and direction of travel to hit these intermediate points, and at the end of certain segments, rotates the truck orientation to match the end waypoint orientation that has been commanded.
  • The driving plan contains data for each area and segment specifying the maximum speed limit. The lift might actually traverse the segments more slowly than this based on assessment of load stability and other factors like turning, approach to a four way stop intersection, etc. Traffic controls like 4-way stops, traffic merge intersections, speed limits, or other safe operations related items are coded into the Maps Database and consulted by the automated drive system along the route in real-time to change appropriate driving behaviors.
  • Because the Maps Database (2) and the Lots and Pallets Inventory Database (1) contain only “static” data on where safe driveways and pallet stacks are located, the lift also continuously consults its internally acquired measurement of the range to potential obstacles. All data from the Object Detection sensors (58) and in FIG. 5 produce range points in the three dimensional space around the automated lift truck. Referring to FIG. 10, these points are surfaces of objects (59) around the truck and can be projected down on to the polar coordinate space centered on the truck (60). Through coordinate transforms, these obstacles can also be readily translated into the world coordinate space around the truck through the truck's own location and orientation in that space as maintained by the Location System (61). These projections to the truck polar are obstacles if they would interfere with the truck's planned path (62).
  • FIG. 10 shows potential obstacles as the darker thick lines (59) as seen in range measurements plotted to a truck centered polar coordinate space—the space is conceptually polar, but can be coded in alternative implementations as a truck centered Cartesian space and can be translated and rotated to correspond with the world coordinate Cartesian space in which the truck moves. This representation is the truck's local “World Model.”
  • As shown in FIG. 11, as the truck drives the shortest planned path, it also looks up the distance along this path (63) to the nearest obstacle (64). It determines if this is an obstacle by whether it is necessary to slow down from the current speed (to stop in the near future), stop, or steer around the obstacle. This is called out as Obstacle Detection (76) in FIG. 8. If a obstacle collision in imminent, the truck replans to a path around obstacle detected within limits (65). These limits set to how far left or right of the planned path segment drive path the truck has authority to deviate to drive around an obstacle or avoid an obstacle without also hitting something else. So for example, the truck cannot hit pallet stacks to the left or right to avoid an obstacle that is its drive path and it can only deviate from plan up to a predetermined amount. The limits set in area driving are that the truck must stay within the area boundaries. If the obstacle can be steered around within these limits, the truck does that. This is Drive Path Segment with Obstacle Avoidance (56).
  • If the truck is approaching an intersection, or other segment that is identified to require cueing, rather than obstacle avoidance or passing, the truck simply waits its turn to go behind other vehicles. If it is cued up behind a slower moving vehicle, it adjusts its own speed accordingly (in some implementations, there might be a passing behavior for slow moving vehicles if not near an intersection, but in a warehouse where lane space is constrained, this behavior would not normally be applied).
  • As shown in FIG. 12, if the selected route is irreparably blocked, the lift signals this condition to the system controller, which would generally update the Maps Database and notify supervisory operations, and the lift stops and replans an alternative path (66) after its map data has been updated to reflect the blockage. Sometimes a truck has to back up to the last intersection point or perform a turn around behavior (67) to head back along a parallel path segment in the opposite direction.
  • Others special uses of the range data fusion include moving through very narrow spaces or doorways shown in FIG. 13. These tight spots are marked as properties of checkpoints indicating entering and leaving the tight segment (68). The specific behavior approaching these segments is to use range data (69) to determine the size, location and orientation of the tight throughway. This data updates the planned path (70) for the approach and when the truck actually enters the throughway, its drive behavior reverts to side-wall or door jamb range-based steer control (71) so as to directly maintain even spacing on both sides of the lift an its centered load (72).
  • Pallet engagement (73) and disengagement (74) also uses the range data sets, but in an engagement task specific manner. Pallet engagement is performed in three steps. First the lift truck approaches the approximate position of the pallet stack provided to it as the source or destination location (with orientation) defined by the system controller and provided to the truck in the mission definition. In the second step the truck stops and evaluates its local obstacle map (FIG. 10) for the nearest pallet stack at or beyond its stop position, which it then aligns to. In the third step, the truck uses its Mast-Controls-by-wire (75) and sensors (58) to:
  • 1. Scan and capture the pallet stack from bottom to top (or to a predefined maximum height)
  • 2. Determine the precision position of the pallet stack face
  • 3. Move the forks to the correct position for stack approachment (for picking a pallet this is alignment with the fork holes of the topmost pallet; for placing a pallet this is alignment to the space just above the topmost pallet)
  • 4. If a pick operation, it optionally uses the wide area camera (39) to find the pallet identification barcode and one of the narrow angle cameras (41) to identify the pallet by reading its pallet identifier. If placing a pallet, lot identification is done on any pallet that is down from the topmost pallet in the stack. Alternative means of identification can be use with or instead of these methods, including RFID, etc.
  • 5. Upon pallet or lot identification, the lift moves forward to align the payload pallet to the stack (or to insert the forks into the topmost pallet holes)
  • 6. To engage, the lift truck lifts the topmost pallet up and pulls back away from the stack; to disengage, it lowers the forks until the pallet rests on the top of the stack and then the lift slightly lifts up and pulls back away from the stack.
  • 7. It then lowers it forks to the predetermined safe travel level above the floor, plans its next movement, and executes the plan, to take the lift and its payload to the next destination (or back to the source location).
  • The lift plans and then drives paths from the source location to the destination location, traversing along a series of path segments and through areas so as to visit each specified checkpoint (and perform any behaviors enabled or attached to these checkpoints). The process requires at its most primitive drive by wire level (57) that the lift know its position in “World Coordinates” or the coordinates of the Maps Database (2). The drive by wire system (57) adjusts steer angle and speed so that the lift approximately traces the predetermined path by minimizing location error between the truck and the generated smooth curve between each pair of waypoints that define the path and at certain checkpoints or way points, also rotates the lift into the specified orientation.
  • The location subsystem (61) maintains the truck location in the World Coordinates by referencing and fusing all data that contributes to measuring the truck location. The truck has optical wheel encoders (77) or an alternative rotational motion measurement sensor on each side so that distance traveled can be estimated by averaging the distance traveled on each side. Turning can also be estimated from this data using differential odometry applied to well known Ackerman [King-thele 1818] or Skid Steer [Lavrovsky 1877] formulas. Because turn angle estimation by differential odometry is inaccurate, we incorporate several alternative means of orientation change measurement. One is the yaw rate measured from an angular inertial measurement unit or IMU (78). These units provide measures of heading change and tilt. When heading change and tilt (roll and pitch) are summed and filter this can provide a short term accurate estimate of vehicle heading angle and its pitch/roll angle on an incline.
  • Many IMUS include three accelerometers to determine forward/reverse acceleration, side to side acceleration and down acceleration, which also measures the force of gravity down. Summing measurement from these units after subtraction of the gravity vector allows estimation of vehicle velocity as a three vector from a known starting velocity (typically from zero or standing still). Summing again allows estimation of the vehicle's change in position from a known starting point. Thus the inertial measurement unit independently contributes an orientation and position estimate which can be fused with the differential odometry estimates to improve heading estimation performance.
  • The problem with both IMU and differential odometry is holding accuracy over time. Estimate drift occurs because neither of these approaches capture heading and position changes precisely enough against an absolute reference. They provide highly accurate estimates of the recent past, but over a long track accuracy is lost based on accumulated estimate errors. Thus any long term location subsystem has to augment theses relative measurement systems with overwatch absolute measurements.
  • The two main absolute measurement methods are to make measurements of position relative to objects in the environment (the warehouse) that are at known locations and stationary or measurements to external beacons at known locations. An example of the fowler is measuring position relative to an unambiguous feature in the warehouse, like a door opening (FIG. 13), a corner, or a placed location sign (or code as shown in FIG. 7). Use of placed codes on walls or floors has been done before for robotic or automated guided vehicle applications. An example of beacons commonly used for outdoor vehicle driving is GPS (79). GPS units can be had that provide accurate ground tracks to better than 20 cm accuracy. Orientation only bounding can be had from magnetic compass or magnetometer sensor (80) with filtering to eliminate false reading due to proximal un-calibrated ferromagnetic objects.
  • Absolute measurements can provide both orientation and position overwatch to bound the more locally accurate, but drift prone relative measurement systems. Generally fusion of absolute and relative measurement devices takes the form shown in FIG. 14. Each estimate is scaled (81) to common dimensions (for instance, radians and meters), filtered (82) & smoothed (83) independently in a sensor specific manner and summed through a weighted (84) averaging equation set (85). Counter intuitively, usually the relative sensors (86) are weighted more heavily than the absolute sensors (87). The relative sensors provide locally smooth estimates and absolute sensors are only required to provide small error corrections to bound relative sensors' drift errors. Too large a weighting of absolute sensors can cause unsmooth random jumps within the absolute sensor's circular error probability (CEP) radius. Thus a fractional (<1.0) weighting for absolute sensors reduces this unsmooth jumping in the composite fused location estimates, but also provides absolute feedback to compensate for relative sensor drift processes.
  • Our approach to location estimation through fusion also allows flexible addition and removal of specific sensors depending on the operating mission requirements. For instance, GPS might be used for trucks that travel outside between warehouses, but might be completely removed for trucks that only work in warehouses. In some applications of the technology, going in and out through a specific doorway (FIG. 13) provides all the absolute location determination necessary to keep relative orientation and position sensors bounded. In alternative implementations other estimators, like Kalman filtering (Larson et al. [1998]), might be used to fuse multiple location and orientation sensors.
  • In summary, key systems in the automated lift include:
  • 1. self-location system;
  • 2. obstacle detection sensors;
  • 3. pallet identification sensors; and
  • 4. drive by wire-controls with behaviors including obstacle avoidance.
  • The key inventory management system controller functions are:
  • 5. ERP interface;
  • 6. inventory request processor;
  • 7. mission planner (to accomplish the inventory requests); and
  • 8. execution (and lift truck) monitoring systems.
  • Item (7) and (8) are allocated to the system controller or each lift under its command depending on the particular implementation.

Claims (15)

1. A vehicle adapted to handle material in a warehouse or other storage facility, comprising:
a combination of autonomous and manual vehicle controls;
one or more sensors for sensing an environment around the vehicle;
a plurality of devices for measuring the absolute and relative position of the vehicle in the facility;
a map database storing information related to the layout of the facility; and
processing electronics operative to perform the following functions:
a) combine the absolute and relative position measurements to generate an improved estimate of location;
b) use the map database and improved estimate of location to autonomously guide the vehicle along a path from a material pick-up location to a drop-off location; and
c) use the one or more sensors to automatically detect and avoid obstacles along the path.
2. The vehicle of claim 1, further including:
one or more 3D sensors operative to detect multiple, fixed-position objects in an environment around the vehicle; and
wherein the processing electronics is further operative to match the position of the multiple, fixed-position objects against known object positions in the map database.
3. The vehicle of claim 1, wherein the processing electronics enables the vehicle to access the map database and plan its own path within the facility.
4. The vehicle of claim 1, wherein the map database includes one or more of the following:
waypoints,
checkpoints,
path segments, and
area sections.
5. The vehicle of claim 1, wherein the processing electronics is further operative to use the one or more sensors to navigate the vehicle through narrow doors or passageways within the facility.
6. The vehicle of claim 1, wherein the processing electronics is further operative to use one of more of the following devices to guide the vehicle along the path:
GPS or other beacon locator,
IMU,
magnetometer,
differential odometry,
RFID fiducials, and
visual fiducials.
7. The vehicle of claim 1, including one or more sensors to read and interpret a code that encodes location or other data.
8. The vehicle of claim 7, wherein the code is an RFID tag or barcode.
9. The vehicle of claim 1, further including a communications interface to an inventory control system.
10. The vehicle of claim 9, further comprising:
a) database of inventory stored in the facility;
b) a database including other material handling vehicles in the facility; and
d) an inventory request server that accepts inventory requests, selects an available vehicle, and sends the vehicle on a mission plan using the map database.
11. The vehicle of claim 1, including forks for moving pallets with fork pockets.
12. The vehicle of claim 11, wherein the one or more sensors and processing electronics enables the vehicle to:
a) determine the position and orientation of pallets having fork pockets, and
b) identify the specific location of the fork pockets for autonomous engagement therewith.
13. The vehicle of claim 11, wherein the one or more sensors and processing electronics enables the vehicle to:
a) identify and determine the position and orientation of shelves;
b) determine if a shelf is filled or empty; and
c) automatically place a pallet or other material on an empty shelf.
14. The vehicle of claim 11, wherein the one or more sensors and processing electronics enables the vehicle to:
place palletized material into storage at a specified lot location; or
retrieve palletized material from a specified lot location.
15. The vehicle of claim 11, including a database of stored inventory including lot and pallet identification with pallet location.
US16/106,583 2013-03-15 2018-08-21 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts Pending US20180357601A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US13/836,305 US8965561B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2013-03-15 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts
US15/439,301 USRE47108E1 (en) 2013-03-15 2017-02-22 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts
US16/106,583 US20180357601A1 (en) 2013-03-15 2018-08-21 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US16/106,583 US20180357601A1 (en) 2013-03-15 2018-08-21 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts

Related Parent Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US15/439,301 Continuation USRE47108E1 (en) 2013-03-15 2017-02-22 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
US20180357601A1 true US20180357601A1 (en) 2018-12-13

Family

ID=51531426

Family Applications (3)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US13/836,305 Active 2033-04-23 US8965561B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2013-03-15 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts
US15/439,301 Active USRE47108E1 (en) 2013-03-15 2017-02-22 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts
US16/106,583 Pending US20180357601A1 (en) 2013-03-15 2018-08-21 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts

Family Applications Before (2)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US13/836,305 Active 2033-04-23 US8965561B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2013-03-15 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts
US15/439,301 Active USRE47108E1 (en) 2013-03-15 2017-02-22 Automated warehousing using robotic forklifts

Country Status (1)

Country Link
US (3) US8965561B2 (en)

Families Citing this family (65)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US9613335B2 (en) * 2009-02-25 2017-04-04 Optricity Corporation System and methods for automatic reorganization of pick slot assignments in a warehouse
DE102011052193A1 (en) * 2011-07-27 2013-01-31 Dematic Gmbh A method for storing and picking
US20140297058A1 (en) * 2013-03-28 2014-10-02 Hand Held Products, Inc. System and Method for Capturing and Preserving Vehicle Event Data
JP2014191689A (en) * 2013-03-28 2014-10-06 Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems Co Ltd Traveling object attached with position detection device for outputting control command to travel control means of traveling object and position detection device
US9733638B2 (en) * 2013-04-05 2017-08-15 Symbotic, LLC Automated storage and retrieval system and control system thereof
US9346160B2 (en) * 2013-06-24 2016-05-24 Redwood Robotics, Inc. Modular reconfigurable workcell for quick connection of peripherals
US9785911B2 (en) * 2013-07-25 2017-10-10 I AM Robotics, LLC System and method for piece-picking or put-away with a mobile manipulation robot
US8972045B1 (en) * 2013-09-23 2015-03-03 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Inter-facility transport in inventory management and fulfillment systems
US9604362B2 (en) * 2013-11-27 2017-03-28 Infineon Technologies Ag Method and apparatus for failure handling of a robot
KR20150077910A (en) * 2013-12-30 2015-07-08 주식회사 두산 Controller and control method of Forklift
US9886036B2 (en) * 2014-02-10 2018-02-06 John Bean Technologies Corporation Routing of automated guided vehicles
JP6338897B2 (en) * 2014-03-13 2018-06-06 株式会社東芝 Automatic traveling vehicle system, control method, program, and limit interval controller
US9152149B1 (en) * 2014-06-06 2015-10-06 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Fiducial markers with a small set of values
US9278840B2 (en) * 2014-06-23 2016-03-08 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Palletizing mobile drive units
EP3000773B1 (en) * 2014-09-25 2017-04-12 Toyota Material Handling Manufacturing Sweden AB Method in forklift truck for determining a load position in a load rack
US9443222B2 (en) * 2014-10-14 2016-09-13 Hand Held Products, Inc. Identifying inventory items in a storage facility
US10022867B2 (en) 2014-11-11 2018-07-17 X Development Llc Dynamically maintaining a map of a fleet of robotic devices in an environment to facilitate robotic action
US9367827B1 (en) 2014-12-15 2016-06-14 Innovative Logistics, Inc. Cross-dock management system, method and apparatus
US10239740B2 (en) 2015-03-06 2019-03-26 Walmart Apollo, Llc Shopping facility assistance system and method having a motorized transport unit that selectively leads or follows a user within a shopping facility
US9649766B2 (en) * 2015-03-17 2017-05-16 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Systems and methods to facilitate human/robot interaction
US9588519B2 (en) * 2015-03-17 2017-03-07 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Systems and methods to facilitate human/robot interaction
US9630319B2 (en) 2015-03-18 2017-04-25 Irobot Corporation Localization and mapping using physical features
US9561941B1 (en) * 2015-03-30 2017-02-07 X Development Llc Autonomous approach and object pickup
US9327397B1 (en) 2015-04-09 2016-05-03 Codeshelf Telepresence based inventory pick and place operations through robotic arms affixed to each row of a shelf
JP6469506B2 (en) * 2015-04-16 2019-02-13 株式会社豊田中央研究所 forklift
DE102015208445A1 (en) * 2015-05-06 2016-11-10 Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. System for collection and delivery of objects
JP2016210586A (en) * 2015-05-12 2016-12-15 株式会社豊田中央研究所 Fork lift
US10180685B2 (en) * 2015-05-12 2019-01-15 Viabot Inc. Autonomous modular robot
US9961141B1 (en) * 2015-06-29 2018-05-01 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Techniques and systems for tray-based storage and organization in automated data storage systems
US9923966B1 (en) * 2015-06-29 2018-03-20 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Flexible media storage and organization in automated data storage systems
KR20170009299A (en) * 2015-07-16 2017-01-25 삼성전자주식회사 Logistic monitoring system and the method
DE102015111613A1 (en) * 2015-07-17 2017-01-19 Still Gmbh A process for obstacle detection with a truck
DE102015009104A1 (en) * 2015-07-17 2017-01-19 Eisenmann Se Conveyor system and method for conveying articles
US9527217B1 (en) * 2015-07-27 2016-12-27 Westfield Labs Corporation Robotic systems and methods
US10198706B2 (en) * 2015-07-31 2019-02-05 Locus Robotics Corp. Operator identification and performance tracking
US9758305B2 (en) * 2015-07-31 2017-09-12 Locus Robotics Corp. Robotic navigation utilizing semantic mapping
US9789610B1 (en) 2015-09-02 2017-10-17 X Development Llc Safe path planning for collaborative robots
US10016897B2 (en) 2015-09-14 2018-07-10 OneMarket Network LLC Robotic systems and methods in prediction and presentation of resource availability
US10281923B2 (en) 2016-03-03 2019-05-07 Uber Technologies, Inc. Planar-beam, light detection and ranging system
DK3220227T3 (en) * 2016-03-18 2019-04-08 Balyo Inspection System and method for performing inspections in a storage facility
US9779302B1 (en) * 2016-03-31 2017-10-03 Intel Corporation System for optimizing storage location arrangement
CA2961938A1 (en) * 2016-04-01 2017-10-01 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Systems and methods for moving pallets via unmanned motorized unit-guided forklifts
US20170293294A1 (en) * 2016-04-11 2017-10-12 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Systems and methods for delivering containers using an autonomous dolly
US9990535B2 (en) * 2016-04-27 2018-06-05 Crown Equipment Corporation Pallet detection using units of physical length
US9894483B2 (en) 2016-04-28 2018-02-13 OneMarket Network LLC Systems and methods to determine the locations of packages and provide navigational guidance to reach the packages
US9952317B2 (en) * 2016-05-27 2018-04-24 Uber Technologies, Inc. Vehicle sensor calibration system
US9880561B2 (en) * 2016-06-09 2018-01-30 X Development Llc Sensor trajectory planning for a vehicle
US9868214B2 (en) * 2016-06-20 2018-01-16 X Development Llc Localization of a mobile system
US9827683B1 (en) 2016-07-28 2017-11-28 X Development Llc Collaborative inventory monitoring
US10071856B2 (en) 2016-07-28 2018-09-11 X Development Llc Inventory management
US10037029B1 (en) * 2016-08-08 2018-07-31 X Development Llc Roadmap segmentation for robotic device coordination
US10108194B1 (en) 2016-09-02 2018-10-23 X Development Llc Object placement verification
DE112016007141T5 (en) * 2016-09-16 2019-04-25 Ford Motor Company Extended freight delivery system
WO2018057629A1 (en) * 2016-09-20 2018-03-29 Foina Aislan Gomide Autonomous vehicles performing inventory management
US20180093678A1 (en) * 2016-10-04 2018-04-05 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Augmented reality enhanced navigation
US10124927B2 (en) 2016-10-31 2018-11-13 Innovative Logistics, Inc. Movable platform and actuating attachment
WO2018106358A2 (en) 2016-10-31 2018-06-14 Innovative Logistics, Inc. Modular deck system for use with movable platforms
CA3041094A1 (en) 2016-10-31 2018-05-03 Innovative Logistics, Inc. System and method for automated cross-dock operations
WO2018093570A1 (en) * 2016-11-16 2018-05-24 Symbol Technologies, Llc Navigation control method and apparatus in a mobile automation system
US10134006B2 (en) * 2016-12-07 2018-11-20 Invia Robotics, Inc. Workflow management system and methods for coordinating simultaneous operation of multiple robots
US10296012B2 (en) 2016-12-21 2019-05-21 X Development Llc Pre-computation of kinematically feasible roadmaps
US20180267690A1 (en) * 2017-03-20 2018-09-20 Georgia Tech Research Corporation Control system for a mobile manipulation device
US20180307246A1 (en) * 2017-04-19 2018-10-25 Global Tel*Link Corporation Mobile correctional facility robots
WO2019023443A1 (en) * 2017-07-28 2019-01-31 Crown Equipment Corporation Traffic management for materials handling vehicles in a warehouse environment
US10243379B1 (en) 2017-09-22 2019-03-26 Locus Robotics Corp. Robot charging station protective member

Family Cites Families (8)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
TW515975B (en) * 2000-08-21 2003-01-01 Singapore Technologies Logisti Order-handling inventory management system and method
US8210791B2 (en) * 2004-05-03 2012-07-03 Jervis B. Webb Company Automatic transport loading system and method
US7155304B1 (en) * 2005-06-17 2006-12-26 Epc4Roi Limited Partnership RF identification apparatus for pallet conveyances
US7321305B2 (en) * 2005-07-05 2008-01-22 Pinc Solutions Systems and methods for determining a location of an object
US7826919B2 (en) * 2006-06-09 2010-11-02 Kiva Systems, Inc. Method and system for transporting inventory items
US8565913B2 (en) * 2008-02-01 2013-10-22 Sky-Trax, Inc. Apparatus and method for asset tracking
US8594834B1 (en) * 2010-12-29 2013-11-26 Amazon Technologies, Inc. Robotic induction in materials handling facilities with multiple inventory areas
US20140058634A1 (en) * 2012-08-24 2014-02-27 Crown Equipment Limited Method and apparatus for using unique landmarks to locate industrial vehicles at start-up

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
US8965561B2 (en) 2015-02-24
US20140277691A1 (en) 2014-09-18
USRE47108E1 (en) 2018-10-30

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
JP5681163B2 (en) Systems and methods manipulate mobile drive unit
US10071892B2 (en) Apparatus and method of obtaining location information of a motorized transport unit
JP5138681B2 (en) System and method for transporting inventory items
JP5143133B2 (en) System and method for managing the mobile drive unit
EP3246775B1 (en) Automatic guided vehicle for order picking
JP5231407B2 (en) System and method for generating a path for mobile drive unit
US8381982B2 (en) Method and apparatus for managing and controlling manned and automated utility vehicles
Martínez-Barberá et al. Autonomous navigation of an automated guided vehicle in industrial environments
KR101978675B1 (en) An Automated Case Unit Storage System and A Method for Handling Case Unit
JP3085468B2 (en) Container handling equipment and the management system of
US7690520B2 (en) Inventory storage and retrieval system and method with guidance for load-handling vehicle
US9440790B2 (en) Inter-facility transport in inventory management and fulfillment systems
US5938710A (en) Selectively operable industrial truck
US20120191272A1 (en) Inferential load tracking
CA2791842C (en) Method and apparatus for sensing object load engagement, transportation and disengagement by automated vehicles
US6950722B2 (en) Material handling system and method using mobile autonomous inventory trays and peer-to-peer communications
US20060228197A1 (en) Method and system for automatically parking vehicles
US5801506A (en) Method and device for control of AGV
US5283739A (en) Static collision avoidance method for multiple automatically guided vehicles
EP0007790A1 (en) Driverless vehicle carrying non-directional detectors auto-guided by light signals
CA2382032C (en) Method and apparatus for detecting the position of a vehicle in a predetermined area
EP3218775B1 (en) Dynamically maintaining a map of a fleet of robotic devices in an environment to facilitate robotic action
US8494703B2 (en) Variable offset positioning antenna array for enhanced guidance of automated guided vehicles (AGVS)
JP2009541177A (en) System and method for adjusting the movement of the mobile drive unit
JP2009541175A (en) System and method for positioning the mobile drive unit

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
STPP Information on status: patent application and granting procedure in general

Free format text: NON FINAL ACTION MAILED