Gentle is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of robots, but a new robotic arm is being programmed and tested to pick and pack groceries without bruising or damaging food. Ocado, an online supermarket in the UK, is hoping to employ the robotic arm for their warehouses.

While other online retailers use claw and crane systems to help fill orders, using robots is smarter because you can “teach” them how to perform different tasks. This makes the system more adaptable. Using specialized computer vision combined with machine learning, the robotic arm can pick the correct item, move it carefully and pack it perfectly for shipping.

The robotic arm is dexterous and will not bruise bananas or crack eggs when handling food to pack into orders for customers. The arm uses a gripper that looks like a hand with five fingers and uses pressurized air to gently handle fragile foods. Using the robotic arm can help the online grocery process a bigger volume of orders, more rapidly and without errors that occur with human workers.

Written by IEEE on March 6, 2017