Online grocer Ocado has created a robotic arm capable of picking up fruit and veg in its warehouses without damaging them.
Ocado has an automated warehouse in Hampshire where robots are already being used to select crates that contain items that make up customer orders, with the final selection of items being done by human hand.
However, the robotic arm could replace the human part of the procedure in the future.
The arm is the result of a long-running EU-funded research project into robotics and their handling of items called SoMa – Soft Manipulation, and the arm is an early prototype known as the RBO Hand 2.
Ocado also has another robot in development – a humanoid assistant called SecondHands which works alongside human colleagues as part of the warehouse maintenance team.
“The SoMa project aims to design compliant robotic hands that are suitable for handling fragile objects without much detailed knowledge of an item's shape,” an Ocado blog post on the robots said.
“In addition, the robotic arms should also be capable of exploiting environmental constraints (physical constraints imposed by the environment). The goal is to develop versatile, robust, cost-effective, and safe robotic grasping and manipulation capabilities.”