Robots to take on more supermarket tasks – BBC News

By Ben Morris
Technology of Business editor

Publishedduration13 hours agoimage copyrightOcadoimage captionAnalysts forecast rising demand for automated warehousing and picking facilities

The next time you pack your bags at the supermarket checkout, give yourself a small pat on the back.

A task which is so simple for humans – quickly and efficiently packing a bag of groceries of different sizes and shapes without crushing anything – is something that until recently has been beyond the abilities of robots.

It requires vision systems to locate the produce, a flexible and strong hand to grab items and a sophisticated artificial intelligence which knows that a carton of eggs should not be stacked under a four-pint bottle of milk.

It is a problem that James Matthews, the chief executive of Ocado Technology (part of the Ocado Group) is wrestling with in the warehouses that handle online orders.

The company has a sophisticated warehouse in Erith in east London, which is already highly automated.