Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are used for the internal and external transport of materials. Traditionally, AGVs were mostly used at manufacturing systems. Currently, AGVs are also used for repeating transportation tasks in other areas, such as warehouses, container terminals and external (underground) transportation systems. This paper discusses literature related to design and control issues of AGV systems at manufacturing, distribution, transshipment and transportation systems. It is concluded that most models can be applied for design problems at manufacturing centres. Some of these models and new models already proved to be successful in large AGV systems. In fact, new analytical and simulation models need to be developed for large AGV systems to overcome large computation times, NP-completeness, congestion, deadlocks and delays in the system and finite planning horizons. We specify more specific research perspectives in the design and control of AGV systems in distribution, transshipment and transportation systems. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.