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Autonomous, self-driving vehicles are the latest buzz, but also subject to a certain degree of skepticism. The trend is already taking hold in Industry 4.0-driven factories, where it sparks far less controversy. Workers in state-of-the-art production and storage facilities no longer climb behind the wheel of forklifts themselves, but instead assign transportation tasks to intelligent driverless vehicles. The Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover (IPH) is showing at HANNOVER MESSE 2016 how it helps humans and forklifts communicate. In cooperation with Jungheinrich AG and other partners, IPH researchers have developed a driverless forklift truck that understands human language and gestures. Visitors can even try it out for themselves at the Lower Saxony Pavilion in Hall 2.

These futuristic autonomous transportation vehicles will soon be finding their own way around factories and warehouses. With the aid of 3D cameras, the vehicle can sense its environment and navigate like a human being, memorizing distinctive points along the way. If something changes – for example, if a rack is pushed aside or a pallet blocks its usual route – the vehicle can adjust to this fact in the true sense of Industry 4.0. In contrast to previous automated guided vehicles, it is able to move around independently without requiring predefined paths, for example magnet sensors or markings on the floor. The ensuing reduction in costs now places this new technology within the grasp of small and medium-sized enterprises.

IPH – Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover gGmbH (30419 Hannover, Germany), Hall 2, Stand A08