May 9, 2018

The Ocado robot swarms that pack your shopping

I'm standing upstairs in an Ocado warehouse in Hampshire, England, where grocery orders are assembled and dispatched, watching hundreds of cuboid robots whizz around on a vast metal grid that stretches out as far as I can see. If a robot needs a crate that is not at the top, others come along and lift out the ones that stand in the way. Ocado chief technology officer Paul Clarke describes the 1,100 collaborative members of his robot swarm as "Friends" - although they are, in effect, all the same machine. "Now I just stand at the pick-up platform and wait for the robot to bring the goods to me." In 2017, delivery firm DHL Supply Chain announced that it had purchased four robots known as Sawyers to help UK warehouse staff pack goods.

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