Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are both main forms of material handling systems that are utilised extensively across a variety of industries for a variety of purposes, from production lines to warehouses and logistics hubs. Although AMRs and AGVs have considerable functional overlap and complementary qualities, their deployment, design, and control strategies are different. In this blog post, we will explore the main differences between AGVs and AMRs and how they impact their suitability for different use cases.
What is an AGV?
An AGV is a mobile vehicle that follows a predetermined path, typically defined by wires, magnetic tape, data matrices, etc., embedded on the floor, to move materials or products between different points within a facility. AGVs are typically powered by batteries and are equipped with sensors, such as lasers or cameras, to detect obstacles and navigate the route. AGVs have been around for several decades and are widely used in manufacturing and logistics operations to transport goods from one point to another, such as moving materials from the warehouse to the production line or carrying finished products from the assembly line to the shipping area.
AGVs are designed to handle repetitive tasks and can be programmed to perform specific movements or operations, such as pick-and-place, conveyor loading, or pallet handling. One of the key benefits of AGVs is their ability to operate in a structured environment, where the path and the layout are predefined and there is little or no need for human intervention. AGVs are also reliable and safe, as they can avoid collisions with other vehicles or objects in their path and can be integrated with other systems, such as warehouse management software, to optimize their performance and efficiency.
What is an AMR?
An AMR, on the other hand, is a mobile robot that is capable of natural navigation and decision-making, without the need for wires or other physical infrastructure. AMRs are equipped with advanced sensors, such as LIDAR, cameras, or ultrasound, for mapping the environment and enabling them to perceive their surroundings and adapt their path and behaviour accordingly. AMRs are relatively new compared to AGVs, and they have gained popularity in recent years due to their flexibility and versatility. Unlike AGVs, AMRs can navigate through dynamic and unstructured environments, where the layout and obstacles may change over time, such as warehouses, distribution centres, or hospitals.
AMRs can also perform a range of tasks beyond material handling, such as inspection, surveillance, or cleaning, depending on their configuration and capabilities. AMRs are designed to be collaborative and adaptive, meaning that they can work alongside human operators or other robots, and can learn from their environment and improve their performance over time.
What are the main differences between AGVs and AMRs?
While both AGVs and AMRs share some similarities in their basic functionality and purpose, they are fundamentally different in terms of their design, control, and deployment. Here are some of the main differences between AGVs and AMRs:
One of the most significant differences between AGVs and AMRs is the way they navigate. AGVs follow a fixed path or route using embedded wires, and magnetic or reflective tape. They have sensors that detect the path and ensure that they stay on track. On the other hand, AMRs use advanced sensors, cameras, and mapping technology to navigate autonomously. They can adapt to changes in the environment and dynamically plan their route.
AGVs are best suited for applications with a fixed, predictable workflow. They can transport loads from point A to B, and back again. However, if there is a change in the workflow or a new task to be performed, the AGV needs to be reprogrammed which might also require an infrastructural change. AMRs, on the other hand, are more flexible and can handle multiple tasks and workflows. They can be quickly reprogrammed to adapt to new workflows or handle new tasks, making them ideal for dynamic environments.
Installation of AGVs is generally more expensive than AMRs, primarily due to the infrastructural changes required for navigation. In contrast, AMRs are cheaper to install and operate as they require minimal infrastructural changes.
AGVs require regular maintenance, including inspections of the guiding mechanism used for navigation. In contrast, AMRs require less maintenance.
AGVs are best suited for high accuracy and high-speed applications with less human intervention, while AMRs can work like co-bots where there are more human interventions. In summary, AGVs and AMRs are both mobile robotic systems used for material handling and transportation tasks in industrial environments. However, AGVs are generally simpler and less flexible than AMRs, as they require a fixed infrastructure and are programmed to perform specific tasks or follow a set path, while AMRs are more adaptable and autonomous, with the ability to navigate freely and perform a wider range of tasks.