500% pick rate rise – AGV vs AMR explained

If your business wants to reach the 500% pick rate rise that industry 4.0 makes possible, you need to understand the technology involved. An important step in that process is grasping the meaning of the terms.

Three letter acronyms are a common tool in describing advanced technology. With the notable exception of the World Wide Web, they are usually a much faster way of saying something complicated. However, when multiple acronyms are cover very similar subject matters, and they not well understood, and begin with the same letter, confusion often arises.

Such is the case with AMRs and AGVs. These two terms are widely seen and used in discussions of warehouse robotics. Often without full clarity on what differentiates the two, what the letters actually mean, and why it matters. That is why OW Robotics is here to help.


What do AMR and AGV stand for?

An AMR is an




And an AGV is an




Already it becomes clear why there is confusion. What is the difference between “automated” and “autonomous” and aren’t all robots “mobile” if they can move?


What is the difference between an AGV and an AMR?

The key distinguishing factor is the need for assistance with navigation.

An AGV will need some kind of external infrastructure to aid its navigation. This doesn’t mean it is anything like fixed automation from industry 3.0. The current generation of AGVs doesn’t need to be any rails or gantries or conveyors to manage their movements. However, an AGV may require things like magnetic strips built into the floor, or data matrix codes taped to the ground in strategic positions. These will be scanned by the robot, registered with the RCS, and used as a means of orientation and optimisation in its movement about the warehouse.

An AMR might use DM codes as an additional means of orienting itself, but unlike an AGV it does not absolutely need them. An AMR can scan a warehouse space using things like LIDAR and ultrasonic pulses, determine the locations of obstacles and their objective, and navigate accordingly. This is a much more elaborate form of technology with many potential uses and allows for a far more flexible and varying model of warehouse automation. This is made possible by SLAM navigation – Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping – an advanced software process that allows a robot to understand its exact position relative to everything else around it.

While an AGV will use similar technology to an AMR for safety reasons, such as LIDAR to detect other workers, and ultrasonic sensors to scan for obstacles, an AMR will go one step beyond and use the sensors to build an entire model of the warehouse itself. This enables it to operate autonomously, rather than just automatically. AGVs require much more instruction from the RCS, and orientation from DM codes. AMRs are far less dependent on external information and systems.


Aren’t AGVs old technology?

Terminology around AGVs and AMRs gets even more confusing sometimes when it is talked about in the context of older waves of robotics. Many robotics providers will claim that AGVs represent an older generation of robotics from the time of industry 3.0. When robots would travel up and down giant gantries and rails and would need to use fixed infrastructure like conveyors and tracks on the floor to get things done.

In the most technical and nit-picky sense, these kinds of robots are AGVs because they are automatic, in the sense they work without human intervention, and they move along a guided path – the rails or gantries or tracks that allow them to find their way.

However, the difference between AGVs from industry 3.0 vs industry 4.0 is this.

In industry 3.0, robots used external guidance to control their navigation.

In industry 4.0, robots used external guidance to orient their navigation.

The older model of robots had guide-rails because that meant it had only one path to move along. It could not physically move any other way.

An industry 4.0 AGV uses DM codes as a means of orienting itself and directing its journey. It has the capacity to move any number of directions it chooses but to find the most efficient and best possible route.

In the latter case, an AGV is far more flexible and adaptable than its fixed and infrastructure bound counterparts. It is able to choose directions based on current conditions, the arrangement of the other robots, the current storage situation, and the presence of any obstructions in the way of things.


What are the advantages?

In terms of which kind of robot suits what kind of environment, it depends substantially on how changeable things are. Many warehouses will be in a position to deploy robot-only grids, which allow for the robots to operate entirely in their own space. AGVs make the most sense in this context, as their sensors are only needed for orientation. The need for obstacle avoidance is more common when there are unpredictabilities at play, such as workers sharing the space, or other ongoing operations nearby.

AMRs are more useful for a more varied environment, where robotic operations cannot be confined to a single region, and other parties and obstacles may be frequently found entering the space. This is why they are often talked about in the context of manufacturing facilities, but also in hospitals and supermarkets, where the public at large need to be considered. In these settings, it is not enough to merely avoid obstacles. You need to be able to recognise them and factor their presence into your operations autonomously. This is what AMRs give you the option to do.


Discover industry 4.0

To learn more about what industry 4.0 is, what it means, and why it can create a pick rate rise of up to 500%, come and speak to OW Robotics. Book a consultation with us, or meet with us in person at Europe’s first flexible robotics demonstration centre.

When you understand the robotics revolution for yourself, you’ll understand exactly why it matters that your business responds sooner rather than later.

Wise Robotics (UK) Ltd
Newton Court
Saxilby Enterprise Park
Skellingthorpe Road
Saxilby, Lincoln LN1 2LR




Registered in England: Company Reg. No. 12968279 - VAT No. GB362248109









Wise Robotics (UK) Ltd
Newton Court
Saxilby Enterprise Park
Skellingthorpe Road
Saxilby, Lincoln LN1 2LR

Tel: 01522 704083
Email: enquiries@owrobotics.co.uk


Registered in England: Company Reg. No. 12968279 - VAT No. GB362248109 - Terms and Conditions