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U.K.-Based Ocado Pilots Grocery-Packing Robot Arm

U.K.-Based Ocado Pilots Grocery-Packing Robot Arm

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Technology is continuing to make its imprint on the industry, with humanoid robots the latest influencer on the grocery retail world. Ocado, U.K.-based online supermarket giant, is looking to robo-hands to streamline its operations

Paul Clarke, Chief Technology Officer, Ocado “Robotic picking for grocery is much more complex than general merchandise because of varying form factors, temperatures, shapes and sizes, or gripping techniques,” explained Ocado Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Paul Clarke, to news source VentureBeat. “Our new warehouses built using the Ocado Smart Platform enable us to have robotic picking, and we’ve also automated other extremely repetitive and physically demanding tasks such as the bagging of our crates. We’re on a journey where some robotic picking can be done now for heavier items; SoMa will make robotic picking available at a large scale and deploying it is all about finding the right time.”

With these ventures and goals in mind, the  company has developed SecondHands–a robot capable of understanding human speech, 3D vision, and the ability to employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to help the company efficiently pack and dispatch goods from warehouses to homes. 

Ocado has been working with the SoMa project, a Horizon 2020 program for robotics research funded by the European Union, in order to produce a robotic worker capable of handling delicate, irregularly-shaped cargo. According to the news source the aim is to develop “simple, compliant, yet strong, robust, and easy-to-program manipulation systems” to allow for robot grasping in dynamic environments with Ocado’s roughly 50,000 distinct offerings.

VentureBeat also points to competition from French startup Exotec and Pittsburgh-based Bossa Nova Robotics—each developing robotic assistants with grocery retail applicability. For more on these robotic developments, see the original story in its entirety here.

Will these robots make a lasting stay in the retail world, and make the leap across seas? Deli Market News will report.