Debunking the Myths of AGVs vs. AMRs: Human Contact

Part 2 of 4: safety, complexity of work, and the ability to work alongside humans of AGVs and AMRs

Part 2 of 4: Comparing and contrasting the safety, complexity of work, and ability to work alongside humans of Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

In part 1 of debunking the myths of AGVs vs AMRs, we looked at a couple of myths dogging the AGV market since the introduction of the AMR. In this post, we’ll look at 3 more myths and work to dispel them.

MYTH 4: AGVs are not meant to work alongside people.

AGVs are among the original “collaborative robots,” operating alongside workers for decades. As AGVs use a more fixed guidepath than AMRs, they are more predictable in their operation. AGVs also follow ANSI safety standards, making them safer for worker/machine environments.

REALITY: AGVs are the original collaborative robots.

A hybrid AGV is specifically designed for people. This is a fork truck or tugger vehicle that is automated so it can be operated manually or as a fully functioning AGV. There are also AGVs that operate not by following a specific guidepath, but instead follow a worker. As workers pick product, the AGV follows them, stopping when they do to place the product onto the AGV.

MYTH 5: AMRs are safer than AGVs.

As opposed to AMRs — whose sensors may not follow traditional safety standards nor be safety rated — AGV sensors allow the machines to safely operate in close proximity to people.

REALITY: AGVs use redundant safety sensors that follow certified safety standards to operate around workers.

AGVs don’t run into people, people run into them. Safety sensors and alerts (lights/horns) provide redundant safety measures — workers are aware when an AGV is near, and AGVs stop when a worker or object is in the guidepath. AGVs can therefore safely work in the same environment as people and other equipment, including fork trucks.

AGVs don’t run into people, people run into them.

When sensors detect an object in the guidepath, the AGV first slows and then stops, depending on the distance to the object. These same sensors also assist in navigation. For example, they help determine the exact positioning for picking/putting objects within a rack or other location.

Some AGVs do not follow a guidepath, but instead follow a worker. When the worker picks product, the AGV stops so the worker can place the products onto the AGV.

MYTH 6: AGVs can only do simple tasks.

An AGV can do anything that a fork truck can do, including transporting, picking, lifting, and storing materials. AMRs are typically used for transport only and can’t lift to the heights that an AGV can.

REALITY: AGVs can perform simple cooperative tasks and complex, fully automated operations.

AGVs can operate in very narrow aisles and can pick/lift pallets over 40 feet in the air, which AMRs are unable to do. AGVs can also automatically load a semi-trailer with pallets, picking up to four pallets at a time.

AGVs vs. AMRs: Human Contact, part 2

So, the reality is that AGVs are more like AMRs than what you might believe based on what the AMR companies are telling you. Are they different? Yes. But just like kids never want to be told they are like their parents, AMRs are more like AGVs than they like to admit.

Part 3 of this 4-part series covers 3 more myths around speed, intelligence, set up, and flexibility. Want it all at once? Download the full AGVs vs. AMRs whitepaper today.

By John Clark

The goalkeeper of mobile automation, robotics and protein marketing. Soccer coach. Soccer player. Obviously American, but willing to call it football when abroad. Working out the details to invent AGV and Robotic soccer.  

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