5 Reasons to Choose ANT Feature Matching Navigation

Why choose feature matching Autonomous Navigation Technology (ANT) for your next autonomous vehicle? Here are five key reasons why partnering with BlueBotics could be the right choice.

1. ANT driven vehicles are quick to install & modify

The quicker you can commission your vehicles at a customer’s site, the more happy your client will probably be, and the lower your project costs.

With ANT navigation’s ‘feature matching’ technology, measurements from a vehicle’s laser scanners are compared (matched) to permanent map references (features), such as walls and pillars, in order to calculate the vehicle’s exact position. There are minimal infrastructure changes required – at most adding a handful of reflective stickers – there is no laying magnetic tape for example, or installing of triangulation targets.

ANT feature matching navigation

The only exception to this is if a site, or section of a site, has very few distinctive features (an example would be a large warehouse full of long, identical rows of racking). In this case, additional reflective stickers can be added – for example to the legs of racking units – in order to provide additional references.

At the beginning of a new AGV project, the map creation process is similarly straightforward. Here’s how it works:

  • Drive your AGV manually around the site. Our ANT lab software (supplied) records data from the vehicle’s safety laser scanners, which is used to automatically generate a 2D map.
  • ‘Clean’ this map by removing any dynamic objects, leaving only permanent features such as walls and pillars (used to calculate your vehicle’s position).
  • Program your AGV’s required routes and actions.
  • In the case of multiple AGVs, traffic and fleet management is easily handled by using our ANT server software (available alongside vehicles driven by ANT lite+).

Here is what one BlueBotics customer, Kurtis Schram of Cimcorp North America, had to say about their experience installing an ANT driven fleet: ”After a week to prepare the map and pick/drop positions, we turned on our client’s fleet and were able to run full production the same day. We have 12 AGVs and 6 loading positions delivering to 80 unloading positions. The performance and stability of BlueBotics’ ANT lab software has really saved us a lot of time during commissioning.”

2. ANT is accurate & highly robust

ANT feature matching navigation is accurate to ±1 CM / ±1°, which means it suits the vast majority of manufacturing and intralogistics applications.

Vehicle accuracy of ±1 cm and ±1° is common with ANT.

Since ANT only needs to ‘see’ up to 5% of an environment’s features to ensure precise vehicle positioning, this accuracy is also highly repeatable; since the map is not redrawn each time, there is no change for positioning errors to creep in and later compound. This is not the case with every type of natural navigation technology.

This robustness is why, for example, the first commercially installed AGV driven by ANT – an EMS Group Pacquito installed at Barilla Group, Italy in 2009 – still operates using the same map today as it did then. It also helps to explain why the vast majority of BlueBotics customers remain partners for the long-term, leading to their being more than 3,000 ANT driven vehicles in operation around the world today.

3. ANT makes it easy to scale a customer’s fleet

When a vehicle is driven by our ANT lite+ positioning and control solution, this ensures it is ‘ANT fleet ready’, meaning it is compatible with ANT server, our advanced mission and fleet management platform.

This brings a world of benefits:

  • ANT server makes it easy for your team to install seamlessly connected fleets of automated vehicles, whatever the type or even brand of vehicle (providing these have ANT lite+ inside). You gain the flexibility you need to meet your customers’ every need, by installing whichever ‘ANT fleet ready’ vehicle best fits their application.
  • No matter how diverse a fleet, it is controlled via one ANT server installation – meaning just one fleet management program for your team to learn, one map to create, and one set of routes to define around a customer’s site.
  • ANT server includes a host of advanced features, including simulation, scheduling, automatic traffic control and much more.
  • ANT server’s API enables you to integrate fleet management within your customers’ existing WMS, MES or ERP platforms.
  • This API can also be programmed to interface with on-site infrastructure such as automatic doors and elevators, ensuring the AGVs you install can run continuously without any need for input from your client’s staff.

Watch an ANT server-controlled fleet in action:

4. We provide close technical support to ensure your project is successful

When you develop a vehicle driven by BlueBotics navigation, our team of expert engineers supports you every step of the way, including on-site (COVID-19 permitting).

For example, with our Integration Package service, after an initial project kick-off meeting, we work closely with your team to successfully integrate our ANT feature matching navigation inside your prototype vehicle. This includes one of our engineers visiting your site during the latter stages of this work.

We also send an engineer to accompany your team the first time your automated vehicle is installed at a customer site, to ensure that operation works efficiently from day one.

In short, we do whatever it takes to make your vehicle automation project a success.

5. ANT driven vehicles can work outdoors.

Traditionally, most AGV systems have been limited to indoor operation. This is because outdoor environments typically feature few, or often zero, permanent references (or features), which are needed by vehicles that use natural feature navigation to accurately calculate their position.

Our product extension, ANT everywhere, changes that.

ANT everywhere adds an extra source of positioning data: GNSS with real-time kinematics (RTK). This ensures outdoor operations are just as simple, robust and accurate as those indoors, with ANT’s navigation algorithm enabling vehicles to transition seamlessly from indoor environments, to outdoors, and back again.

ANT everywhere is compatible with all ANT navigation products. Find out more about ANT everywhere.

Ready to talk?

If you have any questions about ANT feature matching navigation or would like to book a demo call with our team, please get in touch below. Alternatively, download our free vehicle automation guide for a deeper dive into our technology.

Matt Wade

VP Marketing | BlueBotics I'm an ex-journalist and love explaining how technology can be used to solve business challenges.
BlueBotics mini lite is an AGV robot.

Let's get Started

Take the first step to automating your vehicle.
Schedule a call with our expert team today.