Ocado has spent $287 million to acquire two North America-based robotics specialists Kindred Systems and Haddington Dynamics in an effort to improve the efficiency of the automated grocery-picking facilities it builds. Kindred Systems develops robots that use artificial intelligence-powered vision and motion control to distinguish between items, while Haddington Dynamics focuses on the development of low-cost robot arms. The company said the expertise it is adding to its portfolio will make it less expensive to operate not only the large warehouses it specializes in, known as customer fulfilment centres (CFCs), but also smaller micro-fulfilment centres. The purchases will focus on the work done to load the ‘storage grid’ when goods first arrive at the fulfilment centres from suppliers like Coca-Cola. This work is still done manually and has been largely untouched by automation so far due to the complexities of unwrapping the goods.
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