Autonomous forklift vendor AutoGuide Mobile Robots today unveiled a suite of software tools and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that can join forces to act as a flexible alternative to traditional automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) systems.

By deploying AMRs to replace standard forklifts and conveyors, the system can bring automated pallet-handling capabilities to thousands of small and medium sized warehouses that have not been able to afford the cost of a traditional, crane-based AS/RS, AutoGuide President & CEO Rob Sullivan said in a webcast press conference.

Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based AutoGuide has been growing fast since being acquired in 2019 for $165 million by industrial automation equipment vendor Teradyne Inc. AutoGuide instantly gained sibling companies like Mobile Industrial Robots ApS (MiR) and Universal Robots (UR) under Teradyne’s umbrella, and in June opened a warehouse robot test facility in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The firm’s latest product, the AutoGuide Mobile Autonomous Storage and Retrieval System (Mobile ASRS), delivers a cost-effective option for warehouses and manufacturing facilities of all sizes, the company said. Currently manufactured in Kentucky, the vehicles will also begin European production next year, and in Asia the following year, AutoGuide said.

The system works with existing racking systems and pallets, moving goods with the company’s AMRs, such as the MAX-N Pallet Stacker, the MAX-N Tugger, and the MAX-N High Bay autonomous forklift. Although those AMR models have different capabilities, they all rely on a common “standard platform” robot base that can be deployed for any use. For example, maintenance technicians can switch the robot base from a tugger to a pallet stacker within about four hours, Sullivan said in the press conference.

Those moving parts are all tracked and controlled by AutoGuide’s “SurePath Enterprise” software, that defines the most efficient travel route for each job and includes inventory management software that connects with existing warehouse management system (WMS) and inventory management applications.

According to AutoGuide, the system is designed to help companies cope with challenges like high warehouse labor turnover, consumer expectations for fast delivery, and rising e-commerce volumes triggered by pandemic lockdowns. “It’s time for ASRS to be untethered, autonomous and accessible for all warehouses and manufacturing facilities,” Sullivan said in a release. “With our Mobile ASRS, what used to be automated and heavy is now autonomous and light. Mobile ASRS can be rolled out in a matter of weeks—not months—and bring autonomous efficiency to smaller footprints across the facility floor, from staging and buffering zones to lineside. This can lead to an extremely fast ROI.”


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