Ocado unveils new robotic system for picking and packing groceries



Ocado Technology, a division of Ocado – the world’s largest online-only supermarket, is revealing today a new robotic system capable of picking a wide range of grocery products from the 50,000 different items available on Ocado.com. The new system uses a proprietary computer vision system designed by the Ocado Technology robotics research team to calculate grasping points for a given item without requiring a 3D model of the object to be picked.

The robotic system also uses a vacuum cup as the gripping device attached to the end of an articulated arm. The arm is equipped with a pipe running to an air compressor, which is capable of lifting items regardless of their deformability and shape, as long as they are within the weight restriction and the suction cup can create an airtight seal with the item’s surface.

The system is designed to be easily integrated with the pick stations present in Ocado’s highly automated Customer Fulfilment Centres. These pick stations use an assembly line system where crates of products are delivered to a picking point. Once the storage crates arrive at the pick station, the job of the robot system is to transfer however many items are needed from the storage crates into the delivery crates destined for the customer.

The video below shows a concept design of a robot-based pick station:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amOQGc-Cxyo

More information on how the system works can be found in the blog article below:
https://ocadotechnology.com/blog/experimenting-with-robots-for-grocery-picking-and-packing/

In addition to developing in-house robotic solutions for Ocado, the Ocado Technology robotics research team is participating in two EU-funded Horizon 2020 research projects: SoMa (http://soma-project.eu, https://youtu.be/wkE9pSWNwCg) and SecondHands (https://secondhands.eu) which aim to introduce a new suite of robotic grippers and grasping strategies.

If you have any questions about the new system, please let us know.

About Ocado Technology

Ocado Technology is a division of Ocado developing world-class systems and solutions in the areas of robotics, machine learning, simulation, data science, forecasting and routing, inference engines, big data, real-time control, and more. The fusion between the Ocado retail and Ocado Technology divisions creates a virtuous circle of innovation that leads to disruptive thinking. For more information about Ocado Technology, visit www.ocadotechnology.com

About Ocado

Established in 2000, Ocado is a UK-based company admitted to trading on the London Stock Exchange (OCDO), and is the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailer, operating its own grocery and general merchandise retail businesses under the Ocado.com and other specialist shop banners. For more information about the Ocado Group, visit www.ocadogroup.com

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