Across a grid of crates, robots move quickly to collect and restock groceries as part of new technology implemented by Ocado, a British online-only supermarket that delivers orders to customers direct from the warehouse.
The range in Ocado is exactly as you would find it in a traditional brick-and-mortar store. The company has been working on automation since it opened in 2000 with speed and efficiency paramount for online delivery. While other companies rely on personal shoppers, Ocado is using robots, 1000 of them to be exact. The robots can put 50 groceries in a basket in just five minutes, whereas human counterparts can take up to two hours to complete.
Robots move around the top level of a warehouse using a grid system that is suspended over crates of products divided into three sections based on storage temperatures. They can move around at a rate of four metres per second and are programmed to locate items within the chilled and ambient temperature sections, before using a hook to grab its crate and deliver to a human to pack it.
Frozen items are still packed manually by a human as the robots are currently unable to operate in the freezer section.
It is reported that soft robotic hands are also being tested for packing as currently, humans have to do it due to fragile and unpredictably-shaped objects like fruit, vegetables and eggs.