Automated guided vehicle (AGV)

A portable robot that follows along marked long lines or wires on the floor, or uses radio waves, vision cameras, magnets, or lasers for navigation. They are most often used in industrial applications to transport heavy materials around a large industrial building, such as a factory or warehouse.

The AGV is able to tow objects behind them in trailers to which they can autonomously attach. The trailers can be used to move raw materials or finished products. The AGV can also store objects on a bed. The objects can be placed on a set of motorized rollers (conveyor) and then pushed off by reversing them. AGVs are employed in nearly every industry, including pulp, paper, metals, newspaper, and general manufacturing. Transporting materials such as food, linen or medicine in hospitals is also done.

An AGV can also be called a laser guided vehicle (LGV). In Germany the technology is also called Fahrerloses Transportsystem (FTS) and in Sweden förarlösa truckar. Lower cost versions of AGVs are often called Automated Guided Carts (AGCs) and are usually guided by magnetic tape.

Autonomous mobile robot (AMR)

An autonomous mobile robot (AMR) is a type of robot that can understand and move through its environment independently, without being overseen directly by an operator or limited to a fixed, predetermined path. All AMRs begin with a mobile platform, and many come with passive or active attachments or manipulators to accomplish an assortment of tasks. Wheeled AMRs, untethered from wired power and data, navigate using cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine vision.

AMRs use a sophisticated set of sensors, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and compute for path planning to interpret and navigate through their environment, untethered from wired power. Because AMRs are equipped with cameras and sensors, if they experience an unexpected obstacle while navigating their environments, such as a fallen box or a crowd of people, they will use a navigation technique like collision avoidance to slow, stop, or reroute their path around the object and then continue with their task.

One example of an autonomous mobile robot is a pick-and-place AMR that’s commonly used in warehouses. This AMR uses machine vision technology to identify, grab, and move objects from one location to another while avoiding obstacles. Another example of an AMR is one that transports medicine or supplies in a hospital. This AMR helps automate the distribution of medicine by taking assignments, picking up medications, and delivering them to the correct patients throughout the hospital.

An autonomous mobile robot (AMR) is a type of robot that can understand and move through its environment independently. AMRs differ from their predecessors, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), which rely on tracks or predefined paths and often require operator oversight.

AMR vs AGV comparison tableAutomated Guided Vehicle (AGV)Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR)
NavigationInfrastructure: wire guidance, reflective markers, Radio Frequency ID, etc. Magnetic tape, Laser Guidance, etcTrackless Natural Navigation. All sensing is done onboard. Identifies the environment on-the-fly.
ObstaclesObstacles stop AGVsAMR goes around obstacles and finds and alternative route.
FlexibilityIt is more complex to add or modify routes or destinations.Easy to remap and define new destinations and goals
Vehicle costAGVs tends to be simpler thus less expensive than AMR.AMRs are more expensive because of more accurate sensors and more sophisticated control software.
Cost: Platform 1 ton differential drive$20,000 (with magnetic navigation)$40,000 (with SLAM navigation)
Cost: Pallet Jack 1 ton, floor to floor$50,000 (with laser navigation)$50.000 (with SLAM navigation)
Installation and Commissioning costMore complex, need more time and requires infrastructure cost (magnetic tape, wire, reflectors, etc)Fast and easy to install. Lower cost compared to AGVs.
ReliabilityAGVs stick to a path. AGVs are more reliable than AMRs.Natural navigation is more sensitive to environment variations. The robot could lose its position.
SafetyB56.5-2019 in US / ISO 3691-4:2020 in UE ANSI/RIA R15.08-1-2020

Mobile Robots

A mobile robot is a machine controlled by software that use sensors and other technology to identify its surroundings and move around its environment. Mobile robots function using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and physical robotic elements, such as wheels, tracks and legs.

There are also two main types of mobile robots: autonomous and non-autonomous, or guided, mobile robots.

Guided mobile robots require some form of instruction or guidance system in order to move, whereas autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are able to move and explore their surroundings without any sort of external direction.

Each mobile robot will incorporate different features that optimize the system to meet a specific goal or perform a certain task. However, industrial mobile robot systems, perhaps the most commonly used today, possess several core features that should always be present. These features are:

  • wireless communication
  • integrated safety
  • fleet simulation software
  • fleet management software
  • integration with the company’s supervisory software