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Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

RLS is a leading manufacturer and supplier of magnetic encoders for the AGV industry. With a wide range of design variants, industry standard output options, RLS encoders offer easy installation and reliable operation for years.


In logistic AGV/AGC sector, magnetic encoders provide excellent position feedback. Due to their non-contact operation they are extremely reliable and thanks to IP68 protection they can also be used in dusty environments.

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs), also called autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), are driverless transport systems used for heavy-duty tasks that are normally handled by forklifts, conveyor systems or manual carts. AGVs are used for moving large quantities of material repeatedly in a variety of applications in the automotive industry, logistics, smart warehouses, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and printing industries. They are designed to work in narrow aisles, reach high shelves and increase warehouse storage capacity. AGVs bring considerable added value and enable flexible logistics for companies in all sectors, especially in these times when logistical bottlenecks are increasing.

Challenges of AGVs

Accuracy of 0.5°

In order for the AGV to be able to determine the exact position when loading/unloading/stacking the material, an encoder has to give accurate position. Once the AGV needs to be adjusted by the operator, it will waste time, resulting in low efficiency and even affecting the entire manufacturing process.

Compact design and easy installation

The encoders need to be compact. For example, many forklifts and AGVs are compactly designed to meet the requirements of smart warehousing. Easy installation in the drive system is also an advantage.

Shock and vibration resistance

When AGVs operate in the plant or warehouse, they inevitably cause certain shocks and impacts due to uneven floors and messy objects. Therefore, the selected encoder must be highly resistant to shock and vibration to maintain its accuracy in the complicated environment.

How they work?

AGV drive units typically consist of a servo motor, a speed reducer, brake and tires and require an encoder to control the movement, steering and stopping of the vehicle. In speed monitoring, especially in combination with safety laser scanners for safeguarding danger points, the encoders are an essential component of a vehicle with a safety function.

Each axle/wheel of the AGV is steered around its axis by the torque difference between two motors. Closed loop control is achieved by angular position feedback from each axle drive.

AGV how they work

Why RLS magnetic encoders?


  • Best-in-class quality and reliability achieved through superior design and manufacturing processes.
  • Sine/cosine feedback is available as a standard type of motor position feedback.
  • Robust design, suitable for demanding AGV environments.
  • Encoder protected to IP68, against possible ingress of dust and water.
  • Compact size and high performance make RLS encoders easy to install even in confined spaces.


  • Speed control – incremental encoder
  • Steering/direction control of wheels – absolute encoder
  • Mast height and fork positioning