AMRs vs. AGVs: Marketing Gimmick or an Evolution in Logistics?

idealworks AMR

July, 2023

The world of mobile robotics has seen a rapid evolution, with the emergence of two distinct types of robots: Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). While there are different points of view on which technology is superior, it is necessary to go over the history of these robots to fully understand the differences.

AGVs have been in use since the 1950s, initially for the transportation of heavy materials in industrial settings and have since evolved into more sophisticated machines capable of navigating using advanced sensing and control systems. New technologies have also been introduced such as LiDAR, cameras, and machine learning algorithms, which have further enhanced AGVs’ capabilities, allowing them to better operate in complex environments.

On the other hand, the rise of AMRs represents a substantial advancement in the world of mobile robotics. While AGVs have long been a staple of manufacturing and logistics operations, AMRs offer a new level of flexibility and adaptability, allowing them to safely and efficiently operate in highly dynamic environments.

One of the key distinctive features of AMRs is their ability to adjust their paths and behavior in real-time, making them ideal for use in busy manufacturing plants or crowded warehouses. Using advanced sensing and navigation technologies such as 3D mapping and SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping), these robots can quickly and accurately detect obstacles and adjust their routes accordingly, without the need for additional infrastructure, enabling them to navigate complex environments with ease.

AMR advantages

In addition, AMRs offer the customer a degree of flexibility that is unmatched by traditional AGVs. In fact, an AMR only needs the start and end points as input to plan its own path in real time. Therefore, the logistics planner can easily change a whole material flow, by simply changing the source and destination. Unlike AGVs, which require the user to change the entire robot path on the system (including all nodes and edges), AMRs offer an unparalleled level of flexibility and adaptability in real-time, leading to significant increases in productivity and efficiency.

These AMR attributes offer the client a more flexible robotics system to automate their processes. In addition, the average price of an AMR is decreasing, making this solution even more affordable and more attractive. It is important to note that although AGVs do not offer the same level of flexibility, they are still preferred in certain situations. In fact, the described flexibility is not required in some use cases and can sometimes even be counterproductive. For example, whenever the client has fixed processes that do not change frequently and where obstacle avoidance is not wished due to narrow paths, very dense traffic, or other, AGVs are a more suitable solution.

Flexibility and Adaptability

In conclusion, AMRs offer more flexibility and adaptability than AGVs, but the choice of system depends on the use case requirements and compatibility. However, regardless of the choice, it is still important to split the intelligence responsible for intralogistics automation between the mobile robots and the fleet management system (FMS). This is mainly driven by the challenge of interoperability of heterogeneous fleets of robots, meaning multiple robot types (AMRs & AGVs) from different vendors that need to be connected, coordinated, and monitored centrally.

AnyFleet, idealworks’ central cloud platform, enables collaboration between humans and heterogeneous fleets of AMRs and AGVs as well as other peripheral devices and computer systems such as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). It enables your logistics operator to easily design, execute and monitor material flows, while providing actionable insights to the whole organization on the overall system performance. Designed around the needs of our clients from various industries, it scales your operations and unlocks cost-savings by maximizing the overall system efficiency through functionalities such as traffic management, task assignment, routing planner and advanced insights.

Click here to learn more about iw.hub (our AMR) and AnyFleet.

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