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The Future of Automated Guided Vehicles for Aerospace and Defense

  • Magazine Article
  • 23AERP02_06
Published February 01, 2023 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Next-generation AGVs are already starting to deliver labor and cost savings for the U.S. defense industry, and the commercial aerospace sector is watching closely.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first automated guided vehicle, and AGVs have been moving things around on humans' behalf ever since. But today's AGVs aren't your grandparents' AGVs, and their sophistication is catching up with the 21st-century demands of manufacturing and maintenance tasks for the aerospace and defense industries.

An AGV is a robot that travels along marked lines or wires on the floor, or uses radio waves, vision cameras, magnets or lasers for navigation. Nowadays, systems with newer technology might also be called autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), but the first automated guided vehicle was built back in 1953 when Arthur “Mac” Barrett modified a towing tractor so that it could follow an overhead wire.