British food retailer Ocado has developed robots and a van routing system to support its food delivery operations and address current worker shortages.
The AI technology, in the form of a robotic arm, can be programmed to pick food out for delivery in smaller warehouses.
The new technology allows Ocado to become a competitor in the quick delivery service space, going against popular brands such as Gorillas, Getir and Deliveroo.
The robotic arms,80% lighter than robots trialled previously, are programmed to recognise a large variety of products and will be able to pick nearly half of Ocado’s items for delivery.
With this tech, the need for human workers could be reduced to up to 80% in the future.
The robots can be easily constructed anywhere too, with half of their parts being 3D-printed, according to a report in The Guardian.
Furthermore, Ocado’s new routing system will shorten delivery travel time for drivers by suggesting less trafficked, shorter routes to their destinations. A virtual distribution centre is also being developed to help reduce costs of inbound logistics.
CEO and co-founder of Ocado, Tim Steiner told Reuters: “We’ve shattered the trade-off between big warehouses and small warehouses, creating a way for small warehouses to operate close to the customer but at the same time sharing the economics of a large warehouse.”
He also noted that partner warehouses looking to open by the end of 2023 would be able to benefit from the new innovation. The new tech will also be installed in existing warehouses.
Steiner added that labour costs are expected to be reduced by 40% in the long run.
The retailer has already started automating the procedure of placing packed up goods into trays for delivery.
Ocado has also offered its technology to grocery partners in Japan, Australia, the US, and France.