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Robotic Grocery Stores & The Future of Food Shopping


Tired of interacting with humans every time you need to grab groceries? Then you’re going to love Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer. Instead of dealing with chatty employees or trying to snatch up the last jar of tomato sauce before someone else gets it, you’ll be able to enjoy all that technology has to offer. Ocado has designed the sort of grocery store experience that will remind people of The Jetsons (flying cars not included).

Ocado is located in Dorden, UK where its 350,000 square foot warehouse is a testament to modern technology. The people behind the online-only store claim it’s more automated than even Amazon, and houses over 48,000 lines of goods for the discerning consumer. How the store not only survives but thrives all comes down to efficiency and speed.

When an order is placed on the website, robots at Ocado spring into action. Crates of products are sent through the warehouse via conveyor belts; although the products are sorted and packed by humans, their presence is noticeably absent from the rest of the process. Robots even restock the products as they run low, and track the popularity of items so that they can be optimally placed in the warehouse for faster shipping.

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After an order has been packed it’s shipped to a distribution center via van. From there the delivery is made, but even that has the flair of advanced technology: the route of the truck is carefully determined by an algorithm based on factors ranging from traffic to weather, ensuring a fast grocery delivery.

Thousands of robots are needed to make this streamlined and ultra-fast system work, and they perform an assortment of jobs. From moving crates of products to recording the speed at which deliveries are made, Ocado is taking grocery shopping into the future. The robots communicate via a 4G network that allows them to stay in contact at all times, and report on any delays or other issues that could plague delivery.

Ocado is looking to expand its operations and increase the effectiveness of its business, all of which spells more work for robots. But humans are still a vital component in this project: they sort orders and keep everything running smoothly in this futuristic warehouse. This combination of human effort and robotic efficiency could be a preview of the future of grocery stores everywhere.

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