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Will Autonomous Mobile Robots Really Take Over Our Factories And Warehouses?

November 21, 2023

It has long been the case that technology has been used to make many businesses more efficient, not to mention safer places for employees to work in. 

In recent times, much of the automation debate has centred around AI (artificial intelligence). 

However, a technological development that’s more geared towards fast paced and demanding environments such as warehouses and factories is autonomous mobile robots.

Capable of performing tasks such as picking items from warehouse shelves through to driving forklifts without human input, autonomous mobile robots are becoming a hot talking point amongst industry professionals. 

Here is an overview of what autonomous mobile robots are, along with the types of warehouse activity that they can perform. 

What Are Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR)?

factory automation 2022 12 16 11 59 31 utc 1 from Metreel

Also known as automated guided robots, autonomous mobile robots come in many forms in terms of shapes, sizes and even possible functionality.

But what all AMRs have in common is that they complete tasks central to warehousing or factory environments without the need for human involvement.

Even the speed and movement of the wheels are automated so that the AMRs can move around safely without bumping into machinery or people. How this is possible is through the use of light detection, cameras, GPS, sonar technology and other forms of built-in sensors which control the movements and actions of the machines.

Examples Of Autonomous Mobile Robots: 

  • Agricultural robots
  • Automated guided vehicles (AGVs)
  • Cleaning robots
  • Delivery robots
  • Educational robots
  • Inspection robots
  • Medical robots
  • Security robots
  • Self-driving cars
  • Service robots

It’s worth noting that there are lots of types of AMRs, and not all are specific to industries which may have warehouses and factories. Instead, the increasingly widespread use of automated tools and technologies is being seen across various industries. 

What Tasks Can Autonomous Mobile Robots Perform In Warehouses?

AGV Forklift transporting on a concrete wall and flooring,3d Rendering

Inventory management – AMRs known as autonomous inventory robots have the ability to scan items as part of the product database to store and gather information about each item. Not only is this useful for managing stock levels, but these robots can also be used to retrieve items and deliver them to another part of the warehouse. 

Picking – The ability to navigate around obstacles and tight spaces, while also being able to locate and remove items from shelves makes AMRs ideal for warehouse picking tasks. In particular, autonomous mobile robots can work continuously in a way that is far more efficient than human labour. 

Self-driving forklifts – Forklifts are integral to most warehousing and factory environments, yet present huge dangers for workers. Self-driving forklifts have in-built sensors helping the machinery to safely navigate around the environment. Requiring limited supervision, self-driving forklifts can automate the movement of goods, order fulfilment and similar inventory management tasks. 

So Will Autonomous Mobile Robots Replace Human Labour Altogether?

The short answer is yes, we will see more autonomous mobile robots within warehouses and factories, and this will likely mean that humans are replaced to at least some degree. 

While automation and the jobs market often have negative associations, it is clear that in the case of AMRs, the work they do is designed to make workplaces more safe and efficient. In particular, removing the need for human input across tasks which involve manual handling, repetitive movements, working at a height or even driving dangerous machinery. 

Ultimately, every business is built on people. But with the need to improve safety and productivity, AMRs are a welcome development for warehouses and factories, especially when it comes to the need to future-proof businesses.

Metreel – Material Handling, Fall Protection & Powerfeed Equipment UK

Metreel supplies a range of industrial equipment to businesses across the UK. Our product ranges span material handling, fall protection and powerfeed equipment.

To learn more about how Metreel can help your workplace improve efficiency and safety, head over to our product brochure page

Alternatively, if you’re ready to place an order or have any questions about Metreel industrial solutions please give us a call on 0115 932 7010 or email us at [email protected].