Online grocery firm Ocado has taken delivery of a prototype collaborative robot designed to help maintain systems in its highly automated warehouses.
The so-called ARMAR-6 robot prototype was developed by engineers through the EU funded SecondHands project – an initiative involving a number of partners including Ocado, French research institute EPFL, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Sapienza Università di Roma, and University College London (UCL).
The aim of the project is to advance the development of collaborative robots able to safely and intelligently interact with their human counterparts in a real-world factory environment.
Ocado plans to explore the use of the system to provide a second pair of hands that will assist technicians when they are in need of help. The robot will learn through observation and will augment the humans’ capabilities by completing tasks that require a level of precision or physical strength that are not available to human workers.
As previously reported Ocado is playing a leading role in advancing the development of robotics and automation systems at the heart of its vast warehouses, or customer fulfilment centres.
The company’s advanced product picking system, the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP), uses armies of robots to select products from a densely packed three-dimensional grid, or ‘hive’. In another initiative – the EU-funded SoMA project – it’s working alongside a number of European research groups on the development of soft robotic hands specially optimised for handling easily-damageable goods, such as fruit and vegetables.