AGVs vs AMRs for Intralogistics

Until recently, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) were the only option for automating internal transportation tasks. Today, more sophisticated technology with Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) exists. Both allow the transportation of materials from A to B, however, that’s the only similarity.


  • AGVs and AMRs are two options for automating internal transportation tasks, with AMRs offering greater autonomy and flexibility.
  • AGVs rely on wire or optical-guidance systems, while AMRs use laser or geo-guidance technologies for navigation.
  • Both AGVs and AMRs are safe to operate alongside humans and require a significant financial investment.
  • Key applications for AGVs and AMRs include logistics, the medical industry, and the automotive and aeronautical sectors.


AGVs have been around since the 1950s when they were first introduced. AGVs allow material to be transported or towed without human intervention in a given space. AGVs have minimal onboard intelligence and to achieve this, two types of technology are used:

  • Wire Guidance: To move around the AGV uses buried wave-emitting wires, metal rails on the ground, and underground electric wires. The AGV picks up the signal from the transmitted path and follows it. Implementing this or changing it requires extensive work for a facility. Therefore, it is suitable for simple applications but offers no flexibility.
  • Opti-Guidance: Opti-guidance uses onboard cameras & sensors to follow a painted line on the ground, making it more simple than wire guidance. This solution also does not allow for complete flexibility but requires less structural work and is easier to change.

In essence, AGVs movements are limited to fixed paths and altering these paths requires substantial work and a stop in production. AGVs can detect obstacles in their path with sensors, however, they cannot bypass the obstacle and will not move until the obstacle is moved.

AMRs are the more autonomous and more flexible alternative to AGVs. AMRs use two more sophisticated technologies:

  • Laser Guidance: The AMR is equipped with rotating a laser. The environment that the AMR moves in have a network of lasers. Using the principle of odometry, the AMR uses the reflectors to define its path. This allows AMRs to orient themselves with precision and lasers are the most reliable technology for AMRs. Its accuracy is favoured by the medical industry.
  • Geo-guidance: Geo-guidance requires a map of the facilities and does not require infrastructure development or work. The AMR uses the map to automatically calculate paths and find its way around the facility autonomously. This map can be modified at any time and therefore makes it the most flexible technology.

AMRs are the latest invention and technology. They use maps and onboard lasers to autonomously move around. hey also rely on data from cameras, built-in sensors, and laser scanners as well as sophisticated software to detect their environment and choose the most efficient path to their target. AMRs can move around obstacles, and their maps can easily be updated making them highly flexible tools.

Both AGVs and AMRs are safe to operate alongside humans as both have sensors that can stop the AGV and AMR immediately if there is a risk of collision. The main difference between the two is that AGVs cannot deviate from their path while AMRs can navigate obstacles in their way, therefore making them more fluid and flexible.

Both options require a significant financial investment. AGVs may be cheaper but require significant installation work while AMRs are more expensive due to having more sophisticated technology. However, AMRs can be quickly and easily deployed hence providing a faster return on investment.

Whatever the selected solution, the choice of a compact, modular motor unit with a strong safety approach is necessary. Check out maxon’s wheel drive system specifically designed for AGVs and AMRs.

Top 3 Applications for AGVs & AMRs

1. Logistics:

Logistics, a crucial element in the cycle of goods, serves as a unifying force for various stakeholders. It encompasses transportation, warehousing, product design, primary packaging, handling, and outer packaging. In a rapidly evolving economy that revolves around the exchange of goods, the agility and efficiency of logistics operations have become paramount. The effectiveness of logistics and the supply chain now significantly influence a company’s competitiveness. In this regard, the utilization of AGVs and AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) has become indispensable. These autonomous vehicles possess significant potential to revolutionize logistics networks and are strategically advantageous for achieving efficiency improvements.

AGVs, equipped with advanced sensors and artificial intelligence, have expanded their capabilities beyond mere transportation. They now contribute to order preparation and inventory management, performing multiple tasks within warehouses. Their compact size specifically addresses the unique challenges posed by the growing e-commerce industry. This sector demands faster order processing as consumers increasingly expect 24-hour delivery as the standard. Proximity to major cities is crucial to meet these expectations. However, the closer a company moves to urban areas, the higher the rental costs per square meter become. Consequently, many logistics companies opt for high-rack storage solutions. To thrive in such confined environments, AGV manufacturers must provide compact and efficient robots capable of vertical movement and handling heavy loads.

2. Medical Industry:

In order to streamline healthcare operations and minimize the risk of contamination during epidemics, AGVs are being implemented in hospitals. These versatile robots are capable of transporting meals, laundry, waste, and even delivering medication to patients. They also excel at handling heavy loads. The demand for AGVs in hospitals surged during the Covid-19 crisis, with many healthcare facilities worldwide utilizing their services. In Italy, robots were employed to gather information on patient’s health status, while the Navy Firefighters Battalion in Marseille acquired an AGV equipped with a decontamination module.

However, the healthcare sector recognized the potential of AGVs long before the global pandemic. Since 2012, Nantes University Hospital has been utilizing collaborative robots (cobots) to deliver approximately fifty flexible endoscopes daily to intensive care units, endoscopy departments, and operating theatres. These robots autonomously navigate through corridors, utilizing elevators, and collaborating with human staff. They cover an impressive distance of around 1,400 km each year and transport over 25,000 endoscopes. The University Hospital considers this investment highly valuable, particularly due to the securely locked cupboards provided on these AGVs. It is crucial for the drive systems of these robots to be network-connected for remote maintenance purposes and have a level of IP protection, as they regularly come into contact with disinfectants.

3. Transport:


In the 1950s, the automotive industry witnessed the development of the first automated guided vehicles (AGVs). Today, after seventy years, AGVs continue to thrive in this historic sector. The automotive industry, with its diverse range of electric, hybrid, and thermal engine cars, faces the constant challenge of expanding options and adapting to evolving customer preferences. Flexibility has become a strategic imperative, surpassing the traditional assembly line model pioneered by Ford. To address this need for adaptability, car manufacturer Audi has replaced its assembly line with modular assembly stations where AGVs play a vital role.

At Audi’s Bavarian factory, vehicles are placed on AGVs, which transport them between assembly stations. The AGVs intelligently select the optimal route based on algorithms, all while the entire process is synchronized and monitored from a central control room. This shift to the modular assembly system is expected to yield a significant increase in productivity, exemplifying the wider trend in the automotive industry.

Push robots, shelving pullers, and autonomous lifting carts equipped with advanced sensors, cameras, radars, and laser detectors are becoming commonplace in car manufacturing plants. These AGVs simplify the tasks of workers, improving efficiency and convenience. The PSA Peugeot-Citroën Group has also integrated AGVs into its LEAN production system, enabling them to load up in logistics zones and return to the assembly line, where operators assemble sub-units such as the engine build-up.

In recent years, the automotive industry and major marketplaces have witnessed the emergence of crawler AGVs. These agile AGVs slide underneath carts or rolling cabinets, securing them with a hook system and facilitating movement. Crawler AGVs are particularly effective in confined spaces, as their length can be optimized to manoeuvre in tight areas while accommodating the dimensions of the carts. This development addresses the industry’s goal of significant time and space savings.


Aeronautical companies, like the automotive industry, have embraced automation and AGVs to modernize their industrial systems, enhance competitiveness, and overcome production challenges. Airbus, for instance, has implemented a highly-automated digital assembly line for the fuselage structures of its A320, A321, and A321R aircraft. AGVs play a vital role in transporting heavy loads such as fuselage parts, while also supporting innovative projects in this high-value sector.

To accelerate processes and minimize ergonomic issues faced by technicians during aircraft engine assembly, Vinci Energies’ industrial integration network, Actemium, has developed an automated inspection solution. This robot, mounted on an AGV, compares the digital reference model with the completed assembly, ensuring accuracy and efficiency.

For maintenance purposes, robots play a crucial role in identifying the precise cause of breakdowns or malfunctions. Thalès DMS France utilizes an AGV that autonomously moves beneath an aircraft, emitting electromagnetic waves. With this AGV, mechanics can assess cabin parameters and analyze sensor damage, enabling them to schedule maintenance operations effectively.

In terms of design, the BA Systems Group has introduced Asimov, a collaborative robot (cobot) capable of performing assembly operations within aircraft structures. Specifically designed for the assembly of the Airbus A380, this AGV positions itself accurately to imprint the form and reference of the part that operators will assemble.

Contact us for more information and how we can help you implement this in your project.

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