An integrated software system for the modeling, simulation and control of driverless transport systems.

Today, driverless transport systems can already be found in numerous production facilities, logistics areas and hospitals for transporting food, medicines and laundry. In the wake of current trends (Industry 4.0, Smart Factory) there will be enormous opportunities for driverless transport systems in the coming years, but also completely new challenges.

 DS Automotion, a leading international provider of driverless transport systems based in Linz, Austria, commissioned RISC Software more than 15 years ago to develop integrated planning, simulation and control software for driverless transport systems.

 The most important goal for the development of the new modeling and control technology software was a drastic shortening of the implementation and commissioning times of driverless transport solutions for concrete plants.

 The control technology software for controlling the driverless transport systems was designed as a flexibly configurable standard system with powerful algorithms for scheduling orders, for collision-free control of vehicles on the course, and for avoiding and resolving deadlock situations. Generic interfaces enable simple adaptation to special requirements of concrete plants and communication with external systems through the connection of plant-specific expansion components.

 A central concept of the new software system was the development of an integrated simulation environment for driverless transport systems, which can automatically generate a very realistic simulation model from the course design for a concrete plant. The control technology software, which controls and schedules the vehicles in real operation, can be used directly to control the simulated vehicles without any adjustments. This means that an up-to-date, realistic simulation model is available at all times from the planning phase onwards, for example, for time- and cost-saving “virtual commissioning” or for testing subsequent adaptations or extensions to a system.

 The software system developed, now being used successfully in many plants of all sizes worldwide, already has numerous aspects that are regarded today as fundamental requirements for Industry 4.0 solutions. In the long-standing and sustainable cooperation with DS Automotion, numerous innovations have also been developed in several joint research projects.

In the field of driverless transport systems, the enormous progress made in the field of robotics in recent years will open up completely new possibilities in the future:

  • On the one hand, small, agile, very autonomous robot-like systems for service and transport activities (small loads) will be used more and more frequently.

  • On the other hand, sophisticated, cost-effective sensor solutions and tried and tested, efficient algorithms from the field of robotics will be integrated into driverless transport systems.

One of the upcoming challenges to be solved is the networking and coordination of local and global intelligence to create a functioning, optimally coordinated overall solution.

Image: (c) DS Automotion