AMRs vs AGVs: What’s the difference?
AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) have been moving things around on behalf of humans for over half a century. They’ve become a familiar fixture in factories, warehouses, and anywhere there’s a need for repetitive material delivery. Their effectiveness, however, is being challenged by a more technologically sophisticated approach. The past few years have seen the introduction of a new kind of internal logistics system that’s starting to take over from AGVs: AMRs, or Autonomous Mobile Robots.
It’s easy to look at AGVs and AMRs and see them both as just robotic vehicles that move items from place to place, but AMRs are based on new technologies that make them faster, smarter, and more efficient than AGVs that they’re starting to replace. AMRs are also simpler to set up, easier to use, and more affordable, all of which explains why AMRs are starting to replace AGVs. But, when you understand the ways in which AMRs are different from (and far more advanced than) traditional AGVs, it all makes sense.
The fundamental difference between automated guided vehicles and autonomous mobile robots can be summed up by the difference between a guided vehicle and a robot. A guided vehicle follows fixed routes, usually along wires or magnets embedded in the ground. Not unlike the difference between a train and an automobile. It’s probably clever enough to use some simple sensors to not hit any obstacles that pop up in its way, but not clever enough to go around them. In fact, AGVs aren’t clever at all— without much on-board intelligence, they can do only obey simple orders. This means that AGVs tend to get into trouble when anything isn’t exactly the way they like it, and they’re notoriously bad at adapting to changes. If you want them to expand their work area, for example, it’s an expensive and time-consuming hassle.
A robotic AMR is much more sophisticated. It’s packed with sensors and powerful on-board computers that help it to understand its operating environment. Rather than being restricted to fixed routes, an AMR can instead navigate dynamically using a map, allowing it to plan its own paths to travel quickly and efficiently anywhere you want it to go. Adding somewhere new just means expanding the map, a simple and straightforward process. AMRs are also smart enough to recognize and react to people, cars, forklifts, and all of those other things that you probably have cluttering up your space. They can also safely continue doing their jobs no matter how busy the surrounding environment. They can even do futuristic things like following a specific person wherever they need to go, mother duck-like.
With all of these advantages, you might think that AMRs are much more expensive than AGVs but that’s not the case. While it’s certainly true that AMRs use sophisticated cameras systems, laser sensors, and computer hardware, AMRs can be as much as 40% less expensive than AGVs. Because AMRs don’t need wires or magnets or beacons or any other costly infrastructure modifications, getting started with them is fast and relatively inexpensive. You’ll find that AMRs complete their tasks much more quickly and reliably, saving you time and money. As your business expands, your AMRs will seamlessly expand at the same time with minimal additional costs. AGVs just can’t compete. In the end, that’s the most important difference between AGVs and AMRs: automated guided vehicles represent an earlier generation of technology that simply can’t keep up with the flexibility and cost effectiveness of autonomous mobile robots.