Robot cart pushed as smart alternative to forklifts

A robotic delivery vehicle for factories and warehouses that can run without programming has been developed by The Automation Group (TAG). Called iCart, the vehicle uses a guidance system built into interlocking floor tiles and can go places that a forklift cannot, the Gateshead-based company claimed.

Around a metre long and the width of a PC keyboard, the iCart can tow trolleys carrying product or materials up to 600kg in weight. It can automatically determine the route it should follow to deliver or collect materials and product from a variety of locations around a facility, and is quick and simple to install, according to its developers.

"The whole point is to make it a relatively simple system for factories where they don't have a lot of control engineers and so forth," said sales engineer Dave Ellis. "You just need to know the flow around your factory, then you can lay out the floor tiles like Scalextric, and tags on the trolleys tell the iCart what it's picked up and where it's for."

He said that there is no programming needed for the most basic systems, where the AGV would run autonomously on a loop, picking up and delivering trolleys as required. However, he added that more sophisticated systems could also be built using the same components plus radio communications to adaptively control the carts.

TAG said that iCart, which has been on trials with some of its customers, will be built in Gateshead. Prices were not available at the time of writing, but estimates suggested that a basic system should cost less than £15,000.

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