Online grocery service Ocado is currently testing the bot at its fulfillment warehouses

Robots and AI are undoubtedly the future of many (if not most) lines of work, but there are also plenty of areas where robots and humans can work together to improve efficiency. This is what U.K.-based online grocery company Ocado is testing through its SecondHands project, which seeks to create a robot that can assist technicians with maintenance and repair of automation equipment at its fulfillment warehouses.

The robot prototype, known as ARMAR-6, was developed by a team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. It is able to respond to simple voice commands given by technicians. For instance, if a technician asks for a wrench, ARMAR-6 will reply by asking about the specific wrench they would like. As the robot continues to learn, the goal is eventually to get the robot to be able to sense and accurately predict the needs of the technician before they even need to ask. By learning through observation, ARMAR-6 will augment the humans’ capabilities by completing tasks that require a level of precision or physical strength that are not available to human workers.

Collaborative robots (or “co-bots”) represent a fast-growing segment of the industrial robots market. According to the World Robotics Report released earlier this year by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), industrial robot installations are forecast to grow by 15% in 2018. For its part, Ocado, which operates entirely online without any physical grocery stores, has a vested interest in improving its warehousing capabilities. The company is also testing robots that can pick and pack items from the 50,000 products sold through its website.

Ocado | SecondHands

Robots and AI are undoubtedly the future of many (if not most) lines of work, but there are also plenty of areas where robots and humans can work together to improve efficiency. This is what U.K.-based online grocery company Ocado is testing through its SecondHands project, which seeks to create a robot that can assist technicians with maintenance and repair of automation equipment at its fulfillment warehouses.

The robot prototype, known as ARMAR-6, was developed by a team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. It is able to respond to simple voice commands given by technicians. For instance, if a technician asks for a wrench, ARMAR-6 will reply by asking about the specific wrench they would like. As the robot continues to learn, the goal is eventually to get the robot to be able to sense and accurately predict the needs of the technician before they even need to ask. By learning through observation, ARMAR-6 will augment the humans’ capabilities by completing tasks that require a level of precision or physical strength that are not available to human workers.