Swarm Intelligence comes to material handling
Swarm Intelligence (SI) and bio-inspired computing have attracted great interest in almost every area of science and engineering, including robotics, over the last two decades. Agilox Autonomous Mobile Robots are substantially saving costs by applying Artificial Swarm Intelligence.
A manufacturer of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), Agilox directs most of its effort into developing one of the most unusual robotic material handling features on the market – completely decentralised autonomy. Agilox Intelligent Guided Vehicles (IGVs) are completely independent, self-controlled and intelligently designed to handle failover, recovery and deadlock prevention. The company’s SI system can provide real-time solutions to complex optimisation problems efficiently and often in ways that a human designer could not anticipate.
The swarm can also handle unexpected changes in dynamic environments without any human intervention.
Agilox vehicles automatically exchange information about the environment and the current work order situation with each other via WiFi several times per second. Based on virtual transport costs, which each participant constantly recalculates for all pending orders, it is automatically decided which vehicle fulfils an order and which path that vehicle can take to fulfil this order in the shortest amount of time.
This is possible with almost no overhead cost to the end-customer. There are no expensive server systems, no wires added under the floor, no reflector or beacon installations – no hardware of any kind, other than your regular 2.4 or 5GHz WiFi network and the charger. There is no software to install or maintain, no version numbers to keep up with, and no licenses with ongoing subscription fees.
The nature of Agilox’s Swarm Intelligence also provides an advantage in terms of setup cost. Once the first Agilox unit learns its environment and workflow details, the system becomes infinitely scalable. Adding additional vehicles to the swarm to increase throughput is as simple as turning on the power and assigning an IP address. Within minutes, the new vehicle will automatically download all of its configuration information from the swarm and begin working, no additional commissioning or programming required.
Agilox represents a departure from the traditional approach to material handling processes. The company applies the principles of its decentralised IGV system to its entire business model from top to bottom as well, by providing its customers with the training and tools to perform their own maintenance and expand or modify the system as they see fit.