9 Questions to Ask Any AGV or AMR Supplier

Guest blog by Dr. Nicola Tomatis from MHI Member Company BlueBotics SA
Investing in an automated guided vehicle (AGV) or autonomous mobile robot (AMR) program is a serious decision. To avoid expensive mistakes and maximize the return on investment, it is important to assess your options carefully. Asking potential suppliers the following 9 questions should ensure you make an informed choice.


You probably want to run your AGVs for several years, so start by considering a supplier’s experience. Is their business sound? Will they be there to support your team for years to come? Equally important, are their vehicles already in use at different customer sites, or will you be one of their first clients?

1. How long has the company been in business?

AGV start-ups, of which there are many, may have appealing marketing materials and enticing messages, but are these real, deliverable solutions or just talk designed to attract investors? A company with several years of proven industrial experience is more likely deliver on your expectations.

2. Is the AGV/AMR technology proven in real-world applications?

How mature is the technology you are considering? Is the company’s AGV or AMR solution proven to deliver the benefits you are expecting from your investment? Does the company have references, success stories, or videos available that attest to this? Ask how many vehicles the company currently has in operation, and how many customers are operating these. Plus, in which applications they are being used in (are these similar to yours?).

What about the company’s sales performance over time – are sales growing? If the answer is yes, this can give you one indication of the product’s quality (particularly if existing clients are re-buying and growing their fleets).


You need your AGV or AMR to add value to your business by doing the tasks you assign to it consistently and reliably. Ask some questions about the technology itself and how it would work at your site or sites. Look into the vehicle’s navigation system in particular, since this affects many facets of a vehicle’s performance – from accuracy to reliability and fleet compatibility.

3. Will the vehicle fit with your systems and infrastructure?

Your AGV or AMR will need to integrate into your existing infrastructure and software systems. You might want your vehicle to interface with your company’s existing warehouse management, MES or ERP software. If so, check that the vehicle’s autonomous navigation system provides a suitable interface.

What about the vehicle interfacing with on-site such as elevators, automatic doors and palletizers? How would that work?

For example, many vehicles that are driven by BlueBotics ANT® navigation run ANT® server fleet management software. This includes an API that allows your AGVs to be connected to and then run from your site or business management software directly. This API also allows interfacing with equipment.

4. How is the vehicle programmed?

It is worth understanding how a vehicle’s routes and actions are programmed, even if this work will often be handled by your vehicle’s integrator. How long does this process take? How easily can routes be modified in future? Check that a vehicle is flexible enough for its operation to scale and evolve with your business. How fast does the vehicle drive?

An AGV or AMR’s driving speed must strike a careful balance between ensuring the safety of its operation (providing ample time for it to stop in case of an issue) and efficiency (completing tasks in a timely manner).

The vehicle’s navigation system has a large impact on what type of speeds can safely be achieved. Some navigation technologies only allow vehicles to reach speeds of up to 1.5 m/s (3.3 mph) because their positioning sensors operate at a low frequency. However, the way ANT® driven vehicles work means vehicles can operate at up to 2 m/s (4.5 mph), in some cases even quicker. While these figures don’t sound high, this 25% increase can make a significant difference to efficiency levels, especially if AGVs are run continually or if vehicles are diving long routes and stopping less frequently.

Is the technology suitable for the environments where it will operate? Applications vary and so do the conditions a vehicle might need to operate in. If your vehicles will move between buildings, for example, ensure they are suitable for outdoor use.

Outdoor vehicles will need to be weather-resistant (their sensors included). They will also need to be capable of handling low-light conditions, including night time darkness if running 24/7.

Similarly, if yours is a ‘lights out’ operation or if vehicles are scheduled to operate outside normal working hours – such as cleaning robots – these too may need to operate in low light. Check into these requirements.

Vehicles that are vision-guided, using cameras to navigate, may for example struggle to operate in such conditions.

ANT® driven vehicles, on the other hand, run using natural navigation, which is based on the use of laser scanners and odometry. Vehicles using this technology have no problems operating in low-light or dark conditions. Learn more about natural navigation.


Commissioning (installation) can be a significant part of the cost and time needed for your AGV or AMR operation to get up and running. Be sure to get a clear picture of what will be involved and what support you will receive. Again, the type of navigation technology your vehicle uses will have an impact here.

5. How long does it take to commission a single vehicle?

Depending on the vehicle in question, on-site commissioning could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

A vehicle’s navigation system directly affects this time and complexity. For instance, will there be magnetic tape to lay on the ground around the site? Will reflective laser triangulation targets need to be design, installed and measured by a surveyor?

Talk with suppliers about what would be involved. Ideally, ask for real-world examples to better understand the timescales involved. And be sure to build any related costs into your financial analysis.

Of crucial importance is thinking about the future too. Installing a vehicle today is one thing. Updating its routes and actions as you add further vehicles or your site evolves, is another. Will such project updates be painful on-site work or simply a case of a few clicks in the vehicle’s configuration software? Again, such answers lead back to the vehicle’s navigation system, as it is this crucial component that determines how such changes are implemented.

6. How long will it take to commission an entire fleet?

If you are intending on deploying several vehicles (or might in future), make sure you understand what is involved. Are traffic rules and behaviors difficult to configure or are they automatic? What fleet management software is offered and how does this work?

A related but important point: in terms of the composition of your growing fleet, does the supplier you are speaking with offer a wide range of vehicle models to meet your evolving needs?

Many ANT® driven vehicles, for example, are interoperable – whatever the brand. This means you can slowly build out your perfect AGV fleet without being restricted to only the models offered by your primary vehicle supplier. All of which are commissioned using one ANT® configuration software and managed using one fleet management program, ANT® server.

7. What guarantees are there that your vehicle installation will work?

Ask suppliers for relevant case studies from relevant industries to feel confident that their solution is a good fit for your particular application.


Unless your team has lots of AGV experience, you will need to rely on your supplier to ensure your operation runs as expected. When installing vehicles, making project updates, optimizing your fleet. So be sure the company is capable of providing you the timely support you need.

8. What support is included?

Ask what the supplier’s default support offer includes and what costs extra. How is the supplier’s support team organized?

Other questions include: What are some typical response times (in your time zone)? What reference and learning materials will be available to support your employees? How and when will your staff be trained? Is this training included by default? What about refresher courses?

9. How large is the suppliers support team?

Will you have the backing of a team of expert engineers to help and advise you? Where are these staff based? Make sure your supplier can provide the support you need, when and where you need it. You don’t want your operation to grind to a halt because the firm’s one sole support manager is busy or on vacation.


When it comes to selecting an AGV or AMR, suppliers with experience, appropriate support networks in place, proven track record and large installed bases will help ensure your project success. As a leading navigation technology supplier, with thousands of installed vehicles in operation, BlueBotics understands the broader requirements of an AGV/AMR project, has implemented a comprehensive support network to keep you on track, and can help you fully appreciate the best options available to you for your specific application needs.