Are Autonomous Mobile Robots at the Tipping Point?

Over the last few decades, the progression of industrial robotic technologies has continued to advance at a rapid rate—even long after the robot boom of the 1980s in the automotive industry. Now, many robotic industry players view autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) as the next big movement in industry to address labor shortages, the growing demand for customized order fulfillment, and increasingly dynamic production environments that are pushing manufacturers to employ ever-leaner, more agile technologies.

Most robot industry insiders see AMRs as a replacement for the lengthy conveyor belt lines and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) used to automate material handling tasks in the past. AMRs are seen as a good replacement for AGVs because they do not require permanent wire strips or magnetic tracks along the floor to guide their path. Instead, AMRs navigate through the use of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology, and on-board intelligence and collision-detection safety systems that allow for the real-time selection of the most appropriate route to any given destination at a particular moment in time.

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