Types of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Their Use in Warehousing!

Autonomous Mobile Robots

An autonomous mobile robots (AMR) are robots that can move around its environment without an operator or a fixed, predetermined route. An AMR uses sensors to study and understand its environment, thus using the most efficient way to perform its tasks.

AMRs use intelligent navigation to navigate around obstacles in a warehouse. Many industries are seeking ways of improving their warehouse efficiency

Automation is one of the best ways of doing so. AMRs are fast and safe, therefore ideal for the dynamic operations of a modern warehouse.

Please keep reading to understand the various types of AMRs and their applications in warehousing. 

Types of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) and Their Applications in Warehousing

There are four types of AMRs, and each type is better suited for a different task within the warehouse. Here are the four types and their applications.

1. AMRs for Transportation

Transporting raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods within a warehouse are low-skill tasks. Transportation does not add much value to a product and is often one of the first tasks to be automated. AMRs for transportation allows workers to perform other more valuable tasks within the facility.

AMRs can be used for transporting raw materials from the warehouse to the production line. Additionally, these robots will transport work-in-progress within the production line and finally return finished products to the warehouse for distribution.

AMRs for transportation will not need fixed routes or wires integrated into the floor of the warehouse. The AMRs sophisticated sensors will allow them to find the most efficient route to transport inventory and products.

Additionally, AMRs can safely navigate around fixed obstacles such as workstations and variable obstacles. This ability makes them good collaborative robots that can work alongside human beings.

2. AMRs for Picking

Many warehouses still rely on paper-based and manual picking systems. Manual picking does not require high-level skills or training. However, it can be costly because the staff involved will spend most of their time walking around.

AMRs’ picking strategies can significantly reduce the travel time associated with picking. These collaborative robots can bring the products to the picker, thus reducing the picker’s travel time. For example, instead of having workers walk from their stations to a shelf to pick an item and go back to their stations, an AMR can do this for them.

In conventional picking, products are stored in a stationary area in racks or shelves. Pickers physically move from one shelf to another, picking products and placing them on conveyors, carts, or carrying them manually.

The goods-to-person picking system allows an AMR Robot to carry carts with products or items and move between workers and stations. The workers can pick the item they need from the cart without having to move around.

Additionally, AMRs can be used to pick finished products from workstations. For example, AMRs can move carts within stations, and workers can place finished products on the carts. Once the carts are full, the robot will take the carts to be packed and shipped.

3. AMRs for Sorting

AMRs are equipped with a variety of technologies that make them suitable for sorting processes. AMRs equipped with cross belt systems, conveyor rollers, and tilt trays can offer various sorting solutions.

AMRs with a fleet of tilt trays are ideal for high-speed AMR sortation. These collaborative robots work on levels with chutes for order positioning and location. A station camera reads the barcode and identifies the item, allowing it to take off to its destination chute.

Upon reaching the destination chute, the tray tilts, and the item or product is collected in a sack or container. The AMR then takes the completed order to the shipping department as another AMR brings an empty container to continue the sorting process.

Warehouses can also use HighTilt-Bot sorter AMRs for order fulfillment and kitting. These robots are tall and equipped with a tilt tray top. They work directly on the warehouse floor and can be condensed or expanded to meet daily requirements.

AMRs are also suitable for consolidation and returns sortation. These collaborative robots bring a bin or pallet to a workstation. An operator then puts in the correct item and quantity. This system allows short-term sortation since the AMRs can be redeployed to other tasks after sorting the returns.

4. AMRs for Inventory Visibility

Accurate and clear inventory visibility is essential for every warehouse. An AMR with warehouse scanning technologies will tell you where a product is within the warehouse, distribution center, and supply chain.

Inventory movement, tracking, and reconciliation can be challenging and time-consuming for complex and large operations. Integrating AMRs with your systems automates the inventory control procedures, significantly reducing the cost and time required to track inventory.

AMRs can use cameras to read and record the barcode of each item that it receives during replenishment and stocks in the warehouse. Consequently, it will record each item issued to the production line. Such a system will always have a near-perfect record of all materials within the facility.

Additionally, AMRs can be deployed to pick finished items from the production line and take them to the shipping department. The AMR will keep a clear record of all the types and quantities of items it picks from the production line and transfer them to shipping.

Managers can also periodically deploy AMRs to undertake a cycle counting of all the items and products in a warehouse. Such periodic counting catches any irregularities or anomalies in the inventory records.

Proper inventory control ensures no stock-outs, which can lead to stoppages in the production process. Additionally, it ensures that only appropriate quantities are held in inventory; hence no capital is tied up due to overstocking. AMRs are therefore vital in ensuring inventory visibility.


AMRs offer excellent assistance in doing away with many manual tasks and procedures in a warehouse. However, these collaborative robots have some drawbacks too.

The smart navigation technology allows AMRs to avoid obstacles by changing their route. A robot that can change its route without the intervention of a human being can be a hazard in a warehouse, especially if it is carrying heavy materials. Additionally, the ability to use a different route each time the robot is transporting materials could make it less efficient.   

Also, you have to be aware that AMR robots are coming with a quite high price which doesn’t even involve the implementation costs.

In conclusion, we can say that Autonomous Mobile Robots, or AMRs, are highly flexible and ideal for warehouse operations – but you have to calculate all the pros and cons and find the best option for your unique business.

Luke Goodwin is an experienced content marketing manager with a demonstrated history of working in the logistics and supply chain industry. Currently, he works at FlexQube where he creates valuable content relevant to the intralogistics and material handling industries. To learn more about FlexQube and see more articles from the industry you can visit their news website.

Autonomous Mobile Robots article and permission to publish here provided by Luke Goodwin. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on September 30, 2021.