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Ocado purchases two robotics firms to boost its grocery picking and packing capabilities

Looking to boost efficiency in its warehouses, UK technology firm Ocado has acquired two US robotics startups. Kindred Systems, based in San Francisco, was purchased for $262m and Haddington Dynamics, based in Las Vegas, was purchased for $25m. The aim of these acquisitions is to help the retailer introduce more automation solutions.

Ocado has recently shown interest in embracing new technologies; earlier this year, it announced that it had purchased a minority stake in another robotics firm, Myrmex.

The purchase of Kindred Systems will give Ocado a deeper understanding of its AI powered robotics that employ deep reinforcement learning. This technology is hoped to help machines disparate items like those found in the retail space. Haddington Dynamics, on the other hand, deals with manufacturing highly dextrous robotic arms with the aim of opening new opportunities in the field of guided robotic manipulation.

Ocado believes that one of the hardest challenges in robots is picking and packing of groceries. These purchases prove that this is something the firm is keen to overcome.

The company has had a good year, despite the pandemic, as demand for online shopping has increased and investors appear pleased with Ocado’s new venture, with shares in the Group trading up following the acquisitions.

Tim Steiner, CEO of the Ocado Group explains:

 

We consider the opportunities for robotic manipulation solutions to be significant, both for Ocado Smart Platform clients and across the fast-growing online retail and logistics sectors… Ocado has made meaningful progress in developing the machine learning, computer vision and engineering systems required for the robotic picking solutions that are currently in production at our Customer Fulfilment Centre in Erith. Given the market opportunity, we want to accelerate the development of our systems, including improving their speed, accuracy, product range and economics.