Robot localization and navigation system

Simple RFID system enabling robot navigation

Communications Sensors

An automated guided vehicle moves cargo in a warehouse. (via Wikimedia)

Robots and autonomous vehicles operating inside or outside are guided by systems including GPS, cameras, preprogrammed and inertial navigation, magnetic tape, sonar, and laser point clouds.

Each of these approaches has drawbacks, some leading to unbounded errors. To address these issues, Navy researchers have adopted an advanced radio-frequency identification (RFID) for use in vehicle navigation. RFID utilizes an array of tags and an RF signal to interrogate those tags. Multiple antennae onboard the robot can utilize different frequencies for enhanced location, orientation, and mitigate interference or jamming attempts.

Due to cost declines, software advancement, and production efficiencies, mobile robots are finding utility with a quick return on investment in many areas of industry. This is especially true in inventory warehouses and distribution centers. However, navigation systems have lagged behind and are a high-cost area given the labor required to continually manage the data links to robots and reconfigure paths. This Navy system utilizes a genetic algorithm localization process to calculate the fitness of a group of paths and repeatedly modifies the solutions based on the new location of the robot.

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