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'Christmas slots went in five hours': how online supermarket Ocado became a lockdown winner

The Guardian

Ocado's warehouse in Erith, 15 miles east of London on the Thames estuary, is staffed by 1,050 "personal shoppers". Outnumbering them are 1,800 robots the size of small washing machines. You see them by climbing to the top level of the vast warehouse – at 564,000 sq ft, it is more than three times the size of St Peter's in Rome – where a sign tells you that photography is strictly prohibited. The online supermarket is paranoid that rivals will glimpse the technology it believes to be revolutionary. From the viewing platform you can watch these metal cubes endlessly whiz around, moving thousands of plastic crates as if they were playing an enormous game of chess. You occasionally sight bottles of bleach or rosé, packets of noodles and dog biscuits, before they are sent down to a lower level. "I find it quite mesmerising, like robotic ballet," says Mel Smith, CEO of Ocado Retail, the UK arm of the business. "The day I decided I wanted this job was when I went to [the warehouse] and thought, this is absolutely the future."


Ocado, the tech startup you thought was a supermarket

#artificialintelligence

IN A cavernous shed on an industrial park in Hampshire, hundreds of robots are at work in the "hive". In Ocado's latest Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC), 65,000 orders a week are prepared for some of the grocer's 645,000 online customers. It is probably the most technologically advanced such centre in the world. Instead of ferrying crates on a long line of conveyor belts, as many CFCs do, it uses a three-dimensional grid system, or hive, to assemble customers' orders. Washing-machine-sized robots whizz this way and that on the top of the grid, pausing only for a second to pick up products and ferry them to "pick stations", where people put the orders together.


Ocado shops its way to a robotics platform for groceries and beyond

#artificialintelligence

BEGIN ARTICLE PREVIEW: Grocery retailer Ocado is not well known outside of the United Kingdom. Even in the U.K., Ocado commands a mere 1.8% market share. But in the 20 years since it launched as one of the country’s first online-only supermarkets, the brand has become synonymous with technology. This is thanks to investments in machine learning, robotics, automated warehouses, and R&D projects to develop robotic arms capable of picking and packing delicate items such as fruit. The company has gradually transformed into a platform that equips retailers like Kroger with the tech needed to challenge the likes of Amazon, whose expansion into groceries continues. And just as Amazon offers all kinds of goods on its platform, Ocado’s ambitions now stretch far beyond groceries. Last week, Hatfield, England-based Ocado made its first acquisitions when it snapped up not one but two U.S. robotics companies for a combined total of $287 million. One is Kindred Systems, a


Global Big Data Conference

#artificialintelligence

While many know UK company Ocado as an online grocery retailer, it's really one of the most innovative tech companies in the world. Ocado was founded in 2000 as an entirely online experience and therefore never had a brick-and-mortar store to serve its customers, who number 580,000 each day. Its technology expertise came about out of necessity as it began to build the software and hardware it needed to be efficient, productive, and competitive. Today, Ocado uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in many ways throughout its business. Since 2000, Ocado tried to piece together the technology they needed to succeed by purchasing products off the shelf.


The Amazing Ways Ocado Uses Artificial Intelligence And Tech To Transform The Grocery Industry

#artificialintelligence

While many know UK company Ocado as an online grocery retailer, it's really one of the most innovative tech companies in the world. Ocado was founded in 2000 as an entirely online experience and therefore never had a brick-and-mortar store to serve its customers, who number 580,000 each day. Its technology expertise came about out of necessity as it began to build the software and hardware it needed to be efficient, productive, and competitive. Today, Ocado uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in many ways throughout its business. Since 2000, Ocado tried to piece together the technology they needed to succeed by purchasing products off the shelf.


Artificial Intelligence: Research Impact on Key Industries; the Upper-Rhine Artificial Intelligence Symposium (UR-AI 2020)

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The TriRhenaTech alliance presents a collection of accepted papers of the cancelled tri-national 'Upper-Rhine Artificial Inteeligence Symposium' planned for 13th May 2020 in Karlsruhe. The TriRhenaTech alliance is a network of universities in the Upper-Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region comprising of the German universities of applied sciences in Furtwangen, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe, and Offenburg, the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Loerrach, the French university network Alsace Tech (comprised of 14 'grandes \'ecoles' in the fields of engineering, architecture and management) and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. The alliance's common goal is to reinforce the transfer of knowledge, research, and technology, as well as the cross-border mobility of students.


Kroger's Tech Bets Fell Short During Coronavirus

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Kroger Co. has spent years--and hundreds of millions of dollars--investing in technology to give it a digital edge in the grocery business. But when the coronavirus changed customers' buying habits overnight, the grocery chain wasn't as ready for the online shift as some of its competitors. The nation's biggest grocer, Kroger has poured money into projects ranging from a self-driving grocery delivery robot to a partnership to sell goods in China through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. It also bet that a delivery model using remote fulfillment centers, popular in Europe, would resonate stateside. Yet, when the pandemic sent a tsunami of customers ordering groceries online for the first time, it was unable to meet higher demand. The wide-ranging investments slowed adoption of technology for grocery delivery, leaving Kroger behind some of its competitors, said former executives, current employees and a vendor.


Demand Forecasting using Long Short-Term Memory Neural Networks

arXiv.org Machine Learning

In this paper we investigate to what extent long short-term memory neural networks (LSTMs) are suitable for demand forecasting in the e-grocery retail sector. For this purpose, univariate as well as multivariate LSTM-based models were developed and tested for 100 fast-moving consumer goods in the context of a master's thesis. On average, the developed models showed better results for food products than the comparative models from both statistical and machine learning families. Solely in the area of beverages random forest and linear regression achieved slightly better results. This outcome suggests that LSTMs can be used for demand forecasting at product level. The performance of the models presented here goes beyond the current state of research, as can be seen from the evaluations based on a data set that unfortunately has not been publicly available to date.


GPT-3 Creative Fiction

#artificialintelligence

What if I told a story here, how would that story start?" Thus, the summarization prompt: "My second grader asked me what this passage means: …" When a given prompt isn't working and GPT-3 keeps pivoting into other modes of completion, that may mean that one hasn't constrained it enough by imitating a correct output, and one needs to go further; writing the first few words or sentence of the target output may be necessary.


Sainsbury's taps Google Cloud for trends insights

#artificialintelligence

Sainsbury's commercial and technology teams are working with Accenture to implement machine learning processes that they say are providing the retailer with better insight into consumer behaviour. Using the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the key aim of the collaboration is to generate new insights on what consumers want and the trends driving their eating habits. By tapping into data from multiple structured and unstructured sources, the supermarket chain has developed predictive analytics models that it uses to adjust inventory based on the trends it spots. According to Alan Coad, managing director of Google Cloud in the UK and Ireland, the platform can "ingest, clean and classify that data", while a custom-built front-end interface for staff can be used "to seamlessly navigate through a variety of filters and categories" to generate the relevant insights. Phil Jordan, group CIO of Sainsbury's, said: "The grocery market continues to change rapidly. "We know our customers want high quality at great value and that finding innovative and distinctive products is increasingly important to them.