Tech Industry

Ocado's robots just got better at handling your order

The UK-based online grocer says its new robotic system can handle over 50,000 different items.

Ocado's new robotic picking system in action.
Ocado Technology

Ocado is teaching robots how to pack your groceries without crushing them.

The online supermarket announced on Tuesday a new robotic system that can pick a wider variety of groceries from the online retailer's stock. It uses a vacuum cup at the end of an articulated arm and uses suction to lift up your item and pack it alongside the rest of your shopping.

UK-based Ocado said that its system had to be more sophisticated than a typical robotic picking machine, as it needs to be able to choose from Ocado's range of over 50,000 products. It also needs to be able to find the best place to put an item in a packing crate, so your bottle of spirits won't end up crumpling a box of crackers.

"While humans can quickly learn and develop all manner of strategies for grasping various items based on what they intend to do with them, robots need to be taught these strategies and that's why AI plays such an important role too," technology communications assistant Holly Godwin wrote in a blog post on Ocado Technology's website.