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AGV Guide: Industrial Automated Tugger System

Cyngn |

AGV Guide: Industrial Automated Tugger System

In the realm of industrial automation, a tugger system stands out as a vital component reshaping the landscape of material handling. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What Is a Tugger?

A tugger is a type vehicle that efficiently transports materials within various industrial settings, like warehouses, factories, or other facilities. You can think of tuggers a bit like a train, where the tugger itself serves as the engine situated at the front, towing a series of carts behind it. Although the specifications for each tugger are different, many of them can tow more than 10,000 pounds, making them an excellent vehicle to use in factories where it’s necessary to move heavy goods in tight places.

Tuggers of different brands offer different specifications. Some are electric, others are gas-powered. Some offer a bed for goods right on the vehicle, others exclusively tug carts and don’t offer any on-vehicle storage space.

Tuggers offer many advantages. They are safer than forklifts and can be operated with less training. Compared to conveyance systems, tuggers can move much heavier goods. This is especially important in large manufacturing facilities where huge products (like jets or SUVs) are getting built.

A final advantage is that tuggers can drive autonomously.


When navigating the landscape of automated solutions, it’s useful to first understand the difference between AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots), which differ significantly in their operation and applications.

AGV vs. AMR:

  • AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle): AGVs follow predetermined paths using embedded guidance systems. Automated guided vehicle systems can include magnetic strips, laser guidance, or vision-based navigation. They excel in structured environments, offering precision and reliability in material transport.
  • AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robot): In contrast, AMRs are more versatile and adaptable. These robots leverage advanced technologies like LiDAR and cameras to navigate autonomously in dynamic environments. AMRs are known for their flexibility, making them suitable for tasks beyond predefined routes.

When choosing between an AGV and AMR, you should consider the specific dynamics of the operation. Although AGVs operate well in simple loops, they require babysitting and can stall out if the route gets obstructed. This is why Cyngn builds AMRs and not AGVs. The increased flexibility and advanced intelligence of our autonomous mobile robots brings much more value, insights, and uptime.

How Automated Tugger Systems Work

At the heart of an automated tugger system is the integration of advanced technologies, starting with the tugger itself. Equipped with sensors and navigation systems, the tugger can autonomously navigate through the workspace, adhering to predefined routes or adapting to dynamic environments using real-time data. 

Tugger AGVs utilize a combination of guidance mechanisms such as laser sensors, magnetic strips, or vision-based navigation. These technologies allow the tugger to traverse the facility with precision, ensuring seamless movement of materials.

At Cyngn, our automated tugger uses vision-based navigation. This makes it easy to get our vehicles operating in your facility without the need for special magnetic strips or other sensors.

Because automated tuggers can pull many carts at once, the benefits of adopting these systems accumulate quickly. At one of our customers’ facilities, the DriveMod Tugger runs a loop 400 times per week and carries thousands of pounds per day. This is work that was previously done by a human operator, using a (much more expensive) forklift. That operator has since gotten a promotion and moved off the factory floor.

The big advantage of automated tuggers is that they can pull many carts or containers full of goods, forming a cohesive unit that transports goods efficiently. Our Motrec Tuggers, for instance, can tow up to 6,000 pounds. However, our technology can be adapted to a variety of tugger model types, potentially enabling much higher towing capacity.

As a result, the automated tugger system becomes an easy upgrade to the material handling process, offering a reliable option for transporting goods — one that is far more affordable and multiples more efficient than that of the forklift. 

How Industries Use Automated Tugger Systems


Automated tugger systems are frequently used in manufacturing where precision and efficiency are vital. They are the heavy lifters of the operation, capable of effortlessly moving hefty objects like couches and jet engines. 

However, their significance extends beyond their industry-leading towing capacity. They excel in managing raw, potentially dangerous materials, transporting works-in-progress, and efficiently delivering finished products within the facility. This not only speeds up production cycles but also minimizes downtime, establishing automated tugger systems as essential components in modern manufacturing practices.

View our manufacturing DriveMod Tugger workflows here.


Automated tuggers significantly enhance the operational prowess of third-party logistics providers (3PLs) by revolutionizing their warehouse and distribution processes. These systems efficiently handle various cargo types, optimizing storage space and expediting material movement. The cost-effectiveness of automated tuggers reduces labor costs, contributing to higher profitability for 3PLs. 

Furthermore, their adaptability enables swift adjustments to fluctuating order volumes, ensuring timely and responsive order fulfillment. In essence, the integration of tuggers empowers 3PLs with tailored solutions, improving efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and responsiveness in the ever-evolving landscape of logistics and supply chain management.


Beyond their capabilities in material movement, tugger systems excel in optimizing pick-and-pack operations, streamlining the retrieval of items from storage shelves. This precision enhances order fulfillment speed within warehouses, reducing lead times and improving overall customer satisfaction. 

Additionally, tugger systems contribute to a safer working environment by automating the transportation of heavy loads, minimizing manual handling risks. The integration of these systems in warehouses not only boosts operational efficiency but also underscores a commitment to workplace safety and swift order processing.

AGV Tuggers in Industry 4.0

How Automated Tuggers Fit into Modern Warehouses and Factories

In the age of Industry 4.0, the harmonious blend of advanced technologies with industrial processes is reshaping warehouses and factories. Automated tuggers seamlessly align with this transformative shift, harnessing the principles of Industry 4.0 and fostering the development of intelligent, interconnected environments. 

These automated systems aim to streamline workflows, boost efficiency, and fortify the overall agility of contemporary warehouses and factories. From real-time data analytics to precise navigation, automated tuggers emerge as pivotal components in the Industry 4.0 ecosystem, propelling a new era of intelligent manufacturing and logistics.

What the Autonomous Tugger Future Looks Like

In recent years, autonomous tuggers have leapt forward. Fueled by evolving artificial intelligence, these systems possess unparalleled adaptability, navigating intricate environments with precision. Enhanced decision-making capabilities enable them to proactively address dynamic challenges, optimizing routes and workflows seamlessly. They feature advanced sensors for heightened awareness and safety and integrate with other technologies.

Smart Fleet Management

Smart Fleet Management is also starting to play a pivotal role in orchestrating a synchronized and responsive fleet of autonomous tuggers. This innovative approach ensures that multiple tuggers operate cohesively, optimizing routes, and minimizing delays. Smart Fleet Management fosters an interconnected system that adapts in real-time to dynamic operational needs.

Operational Data and Analytics

Autonomous tuggers already generate oceans of operational data and analytics. Soon, insights derived from this data will empower businesses (and the businesses they work with) to make informed decisions, end-to-end across the supply chain.

Artificial Intelligence

At the heart of the future of autonomous tuggers lies the infusion of artificial intelligence. AI-equipped tuggers will transcend mere automation, becoming intelligent entities capable of adapting to dynamic environments, “reading the room” and lending a hand when they see the opportunity to do so. Today, autonomous tuggers already integrate real-time data to optimize routes. However, as this technology becomes more sophisticated, these tuggers will start to anticipate what needs to be done and complete it before the thought even crosses your mind.

The future landscape of autonomous tuggers is not merely automated; it's intelligent, adaptive, and poised to revolutionize the way materials are handled in industrial settings.

DriveMod: Autonomous Tugger Software Management

DriveMod, Cyngn's autonomous vehicle solution, seamlessly integrates self-driving capabilities into existing industrial fleets. This scalable technology combines cutting-edge software, hardware, artificial intelligence, and customizable sensor stacks to deliver safe and reliable autonomous vehicle solutions tailored to individual facilities and workflows. DriveMod's capabilities extend to a variety of vehicle types such as the BYD Forklift, the Motrec Tugger, and the Columbia Stockchaser.

With DriveMod, you can manage and monitor your fleet from anywhere. Our safety systems were trained on public roads, which means they are incredibly safe. Automated data pipelines convert real-time data into actionable insights. 

With 100+ systems, DriveMod ensures safe, reliable self-driving capabilities, incorporating features such as the ability to:

  • Autonomously lift and haul thousands of pounds of goods.
  • Switch into manual mode and driven by a human.
  • Safely navigate sites without the need for special infrastructure.
  • Transport goods to any on-site location, indoors and outdoors.
  • Execute missions based on a variety of flexible, programmable options.
  • Collect real-time data to reveal opportunities for optimization.

6 Benefits of Industrial Automated Tugger Systems

1. Safety

Automated tugger systems are a definite upgrade to the safety of your facility, especially when compared to a manually driven forklift. The DriveMod Tugger incorporates 24/7/360° awareness, delivering a comprehensive Safety Suite. 

Featuring LiDARs for a 360° view, a Decision Engine for rapid data interpretation, and a Virtual Bumper for collision avoidance, DriveMod ensures top-notch safety. Visible and audible cues enhance communication for the autonomous tugger, while addressing physical stress on workers fosters a happier, more productive workforce. 

2. Flexibility

Automated tuggers grant operators vital flexibility amidst supply chain disruptions and demand fluctuations. Unlike traditional conveyance methods, these robotic systems autonomously adapt to changing facility layouts, addressing the need for rapid reconfiguration. 

The tugger system’s automated agility empowers operators to efficiently manage uncertainties, providing a streamlined solution for material handling in the dynamic landscape of industrial logistics.

3 Cost Savings

Beyond safety and flexibility, tugger systems present compelling economic advantages. The integration of AGV automation reduces labor costs associated with manual material transport. Moreover, as part of the broader trend in material handling automation, tugger systems play a role in optimizing overall material handling processes, leading to substantial cost savings in the long run.

4 Environmental Friendliness

Autonomous tuggers help facility operators meet their sustainability goals by significantly reducing carbon emissions associated with material transport. Their efficient, automated workflows use less energy, break less aggressively, and directly contribute to eco-friendly practices.

5 Data Collection

In the age of data-driven decision-making, tugger systems serve as valuable sources of real-time operational data. This data, ranging from route efficiency to load capacities, becomes instrumental in optimizing workflows. 

Through data utilization, businesses gain insights into material handling patterns, enabling informed decision-making for process improvement and resource allocation within industrial facilities.

6 Quick Deployment

It only takes a couple weeks for Cyngn to deploy an autonomous forklift at your facility, which means that you can tap into efficiency gains much more quickly than that of other automated solutions. Additionally, by shortening the time to deployment, you minimize any potential disruptions to ongoing operations.

Case Study: Global Logistics and Fulfillment

In line with the global e-commerce boom, the warehousing industry is experiencing rapid growth. Industry stalwarts struggle to scale operations to meet burgeoning demand, resulting in drying up traditional labor resources becoming more expensive. Global Logistics and Fulfillment (GLF), a leading provider of distribution and fulfillment services, faced rising labor costs and increased customer demands when it deployed our autonomous vehicle at their facility. 

According to Cyngn’s research, the deployment of an autonomous vehicle at GLF’s Las Vegas warehouse facility led to a dramatic increase in efficiency — almost immediately. 

The report found:
✅ 64% reduction in human labor costs when using Cyngn's autonomous stock chaser vs. using a forklift.
✅ 33% increase in efficiency when using Cyngn's autonomous stock chaser vs. using an electric pallet jack.

Read the full study here to learn how your organization can implement autonomous vehicle technology and achieve similar results.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a tugger vehicle?

A tugger is a kind vehicle that efficiently transports materials within various industrial settings, like warehouses, factories, or other facilities. You can think of tuggers a bit like a train. The tugger itself is the engine. It sits at the front, towing a series of carts behind it. Although the specifications for each tugger are different, many of them can tow more than 10,000 pounds, making them an excellent vehicle to use in factories where it’s necessary to move heavy goods in tight places.

2. What is the main disadvantage of a tow tugger AGV?

Unlike versatile autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), tow tugger AGVs may face challenges adapting to irregularly shaped or sized payloads. This limitation can impact operational flexibility, particularly in environments where materials vary widely in dimensions. While tow tugger AGVs excel in routine material transport, their adaptability to non-uniform loads might require additional considerations in certain industrial applications.

3. What do tuggers do?

Tuggers are specialized automated vehicles designed for the efficient movement of materials within industrial settings. Their primary functions include towing carts or containers laden with goods, streamlining material transport processes. The concept of a tugger train system involves a single tugger pulling multiple carts, optimizing the transport of diverse loads simultaneously. These industrial AGVs play a crucial role in enhancing workflow efficiency, contributing to the overall productivity and agility of manufacturing plants, warehouses, and distribution centers.

4. Are AGVs efficient?

Yes, AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) are highly efficient in material handling operations. Leveraging advanced technologies such as AGV technology and sophisticated navigation systems, contribute to streamlined logistics workflows, minimizing the reliance on manual labor and reducing the risk of errors. The efficiency gains realized through AGV implementation extend to optimizing overall logistics workflows, making them a valuable asset in modern industrial settings.

5. How much can a Motrec tugger tow?

The Motrec tugger is renowned for its robust towing capabilities. Depending on the specific model and configuration, Motrec tuggers can tow varying loads. Drivemod-enabled Motrec tuggers can tow more than 20,000 pounds. The towing capacity of a Motrec tugger, coupled with its adaptability to different material handling tasks, positions it as a reliable and powerful solution in the realm of industrial tugger systems.

6. Where are tugger vehicles used?

Tugger vehicles find extensive applications across diverse industrial sectors. They are commonly used in manufacturing plants, warehouses, and distribution centers. These industrial tuggers play a pivotal role in material handling processes, facilitating the movement of goods within facilities. From streamlining workflows in automotive manufacturing to optimizing logistics operations in e-commerce warehouses, tugger vehicles are versatile solutions. Their applications extend to various industries, making them indispensable in the dynamic landscape of modern material handling equipment. With DriveMod, Tugger vehicles can be converted into vehicles that drive themselves. 

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