Ocado to trial humanoid robot warehouse assistant

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Since the beginning of March, Ocado customers have donated over £1m to food banks and social enterprises. The total value of customer donations increased by 830% between the first week of March amid the coronavirus crisis.

Online grocery retailer Ocado is set to start testing a humanoid robot in its warehouses that will assist human engineers.

The robot, dubbed SecondHands, will assist engineers working on Ocado’s handling systems using artificial intelligence to predict their needs and hand them tools.

Ocado has already invested millions in developing technologies aimed at automating elements of its business, including delivering the management of goods in its warehouses.

SecondHands and its software was developed by the Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics at the German Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Its features, including voice recognition, are reportedly designed to provide a “fluid and natural interaction between robot and technician”.

In February last year Ocado released footage of its “soft manipulation” project, which aims to use a robotic arm to handle fragile and dangerous goods like fruit and bleach.

Months later in June it announced trials of self-driving delivery trucks, as the retailer continued its drive to reduce its reliance on human workers.

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