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Ocado evaluating robotic manipulation for online shopping orders

Robohub

Ocado, the world's largest online-only supermarket, has been evaluating the feasibility of robotic picking and packing of shopping orders in its highly-automated warehouses through the SoMa project, a Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation funded by the European Union. One of the main challenges of robotic manipulation has been the handling of easily damageable and unpredictably shaped objects such as fruit and vegetable groceries. These products have unique shapes and should be handled in a way that does not cause damage or bruising. To avoid damaging sensitive items, the project uses a compliant gripper (i.e. one that possesses spring-like properties) in conjunction with an industrial robot arm. The variation in shape of the target objects imposes another set of constraints on the design of a suitable gripper.


Tesco removes all traces of plastic from its online shopping service

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Britain's biggest supermarket is to stop using plastic carrier bags for online grocery deliveries. Tesco hopes to remove 250 million bags a year from homes and rubbish bins as well as the two tonnes of plastic used in their production. The decision is the latest in a long list of measures across the high street to cut back on single-use plastic bags and packaging. Last week Asda also pledged to scrap plastic carrier bags it uses for online orders to remove tens of millions of bags. The Iceland store in Hackney is going plastic bag free.



Walmart tests 'Alphabot' that can pick and pack customers' online shopping orders

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A robot will soon be able to handle your groceries for you. Walmart announced Friday that it will soon incorporate automated robotic carts, called Alphabots, in one of its superstores in Salem, New Hampshire. Alphabots can pick and pack shoppers' online orders and complete otherwise mundane tasks in the hopes of streamlining Walmart's online grocery service. 'Alphabot will work behind the scenes to make the process even easier by automatically bringing items from storage to associates who will consolidate the items in the order,' Mark Ibbotson, Walmart's executive vice president of central operations, said in a statement. 'For our pickup associates, that means less time walking the store aisles in search of products and more time ensuring customers are getting the absolute best in fresh produce, meats, etc.' The retail giant installed a 20,000-square-foot extension connected to the store that will house Alphabot.


Buying groceries online means people don't walk says Dame Sally Davies

Daily Mail - Science & tech

It takes the stress out of the supermarket shop for millions of time-pressed Britons. But buying groceries online is bad for our health, Britain's top doctor has suggested. Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, said that making simple changes such as walking to the supermarket and carrying the bags home could help boost basic fitness. Buying groceries online is bad for our health, Britain's top doctor has suggested (stock picture) Dame Sally said that lack of exercise is a pressing health problem and urged people to go back to go back to the habits of the past – swapping the lift for the stairs and replacing online shopping with a trip to the supermarket. Her warning comes amid growing concern about the damage that increasingly sedentary lifestyles are doing to health.