Ocado's making robots that will help in the workplace

Lynsey Barber
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Man and machine will work together (Source: Getty)

The online grocery company Ocado is getting into the robot business as work begins today on developing technology which will become humanoid helpers to workers.

The company will work with leading researchers across Europe to combine artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced vision technologies to create robot support worker which can lend a helping hand.

“The ultimate aim is for humans to end up relying on collaborative robots because they have become an active participant in their daily tasks,” said Dr Graham Deacon, robotics research team leader at Ocado Technology. “In essence the SecondHands robot will know what to do, when to do it and how to do it in a manner that a human can depend on.”

It may be best known as middle England's favourite delivery service, but Ocado also develops technology, building upon the platform which is behind the successful service.

By the end of the five-year research project, which will include testing at a new facility in Hatfield, it hopes to produce robots which can hand things to maintenance technicians and move things like ladders and bolts, with the aim of making the workplace more productive and efficient.

The SecondHands project also involves University Colleg London, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, La Sapienza University of Rome and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and is part of the EU's Horizon 2020 robotics innovation programme.

Let's hope they produce robots which work better than these ones from the Darpa Robotics Challenge.

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