What is the most popular use for robots in the materials handling industry?
The most popular robots used in the materials handling industry are automated flatbed trucks. These go by the monikers AGVs and AMRs. Getting the terminology right when you’re looking to automate is crucial, so what is an AGV and what is an AMR?
An AGV is an automated guided vehicle and an AMR is an autonomous mobile robot. Round of applause for everyone who got that right. I got the first one wrong, but the second one right - so half marks for me.
You might not know it (I certainly didn’t), but AGVs have been with us for almost 50 years. They are small, flatbed vehicles which are guided by magnets, or wires, and follow a strictly prescribed route. If they meet an obstacle, they stop. They cannot re-route.
The big difference is that an AMR has a greater ability to navigate itself, using AI and 2D/3D vision to get around a building, avoiding obstacles as they go. The cool thing is that they don’t just travel from A to B; they can choose their own route, given the circumstances of the job in hand.
So there you are, that’s the difference between an AGV and an AMR. Two huge players within the materials handling industry.