Mobile robots in indoor logistics
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Robotics is a field capturing a large interest within the academia and the industrialist, during last years the interest has also spread to the general audience. Traditionally, the sector of robot manipulators has been the one capturing the largest share of markets and the general audience. However, the latest advances on perception and cognition have paved the way for the wide use of mobile robots in general, and in industrial systems in particular. The thesis presents a survey of the main components to take into account at the time of deciding to implement mobile robots for indoor logistics in automation systems. In particular, the work presents different locomotion methods, navigation systems, technologies for implementing path panning of the robots and some solutions for the fleet management in case of large population of robots at the factory floor. In addition, the thesis also introduces some of the most promising commercial products and, when possible, presents the application in real industrial use cases. Understanding the initial stage of the current market situation, this survey is complemented with a patent analysis of the field, providing a landscape of some 500 patents. A few of the most relevant patents have been also studied and presented in great detail. The concluding chapter of the thesis summarizes the main findings and proved the original perception of the author regarding the availability of new technological solutions, solution that will allow mobile robots to stress their presence at the factory floor becoming essential component for future indoor logistics systems.