Ocado reveals the fruit of its automation labour, a robotic hand prototype

Online UK supermarket Ocado has lifted the lid on an automated robotic hand that it is working on with Disney and EU universities that could one day change how its warehouses are operated.

While its common knowledge that retailers, most prominently perhaps Amazon, are looking to streamline their processes with automation, the robotic hand on show is the first major example of Ocado utilising tech to shake up the market in such a way.

It's not Ocado's first foray into robotics, however, as the company unveiled a new system that used 1000 robots and a custom-built mobile communications network at Mobile World Congress last year. Speaking to The Drum at the time, David Sharp, head of technology 10x at Ocado, discussed how the business was pivoting to become an internet of things pioneer.

The device can handle fruit and veg, with the developers having to code a grip that is both firm yet restrained enough not to damage the goods.

BBC News reports that the bot is the sum of an EU project, a five-year collaboration between five European universities and Disney. It is named Soma (Soft Manipulation).

The company already has robots operating at its warehouse in Andover, Hampshire.

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