Online Grocer Debuts "Fruit-Picking Robot" In Latest Blow To Minimum Wage Proponents

Tyler Durden's picture

In the latest sign that low-skill jobs are doomed to the inevitable, detrimental effects of technological advancements, particularly in era of politicians relentlessly fighting for higher minimum wages, an online grocer in Britain, Ocada, has debuted a prototype of a robotic arm that can pick fruit off an assembly line just like a human worker.  Per a report from BBC, the fruit and vegetable picker is part of a five-year, EU-funded collaboration between five European universities and Disney, called Soma (Soft Manipulation).

Currently, all of Ocado's customer orders are bagged on an assembly line at a warehouse in Andover, Hampshire by 1,000s of human hands.  But that may be all about to change as Ocado's technology looks to combine it's robotic human hand with computer vision and the ability to actually pick fruit and vegetables according to ripeness.

"People have tried suction cups, robot hands with three fingers... What we are trying to do is to actually mimic the human hand."


"The gripper is based on air pressure, which controls the movement of the robotic fingers.


"What we are trying to do is combine computer vision - being able to recognise products by looking at them - with the control aspect which is the gripping aspect."


At the moment, only the gripper is being demonstrated but ultimately the robot will learn to distinguish fruit ripeness through machine learning.


It will also be able to pick other items which require different care - such as wine bottles and detergent.


"Fruit and vegetables are the hardest to pick," said Mr Voica.

And here is a look at the developing technology in action:


And another:


And while the robotic hand is still under development, Ocado told TechCrunch that it is already being tested in a replicated warehouse and will soon be rolled out for live use in it's Andover facility.

To manipulate different items without damaging them, Ocado’s new robotic arm uses a gripper that is anthropomorphic, or takes the form of the human hand. Dubbed the RBO Hand 2, this element has flexible rubber “fingers,” and uses pressurized air to move them and enable safe, gentle handling of groceries. Researchers at the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) developed the soft robotic hand, originally. Other types of robotic grippers out there use suction to pick apples, or a ball filled with sand-like material to physically grasp metal parts.


Ocado has already been testing the robot hands in a replicated production warehouse, to figure out if they’re ready for real world use. The answer is now yes. Clarke tells TechCrunch, “We will begin to gradually deploy this at our Andover warehouse, where in due course, [the gripper] will start picking a meaningful fraction of the range of 48,500 items we ship out to customers.” The company will begin the roll out slowly, recording the results of tests in the real world environment. It will still be some time before Ocado customers get a back packed up by SoMa Ocado RBO Hands.

Of course, it's easy to imagine how such technology can be used to replace millions of low-skilled tasks across a variety of industries, once again highlighting the headwinds facing international labor markets for decades to come.

Do you see what happens, Bernie?  Do you see what happens, Bernie, when you artificially raise minimum wage and make capital projects way more attractive?  This is what happens, Bernie.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Vatican_cameo's picture


More importantly, will they vote "Democrat"?

VD's picture

SkyNet gives much thanks to the Geriatric Commie Bern0ut.

Ghost of Porky's picture

No need for more refugees. These robots can grope european women much more efficiently.

OfAllElaboratePlans's picture
OfAllElaboratePlans (not verified) Ghost of Porky Jan 31, 2017 12:02 PM

Johnny Mnemonic Appleseed

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

It's all in the opposable thumb. Thankfully we come equipped with two so we can hitchhike to the next town looking for work.

OfAllElaboratePlans's picture
OfAllElaboratePlans (not verified) Cognitive Dissonance Jan 31, 2017 12:15 PM

I use mine to give liberal snowflakes "the thumb"

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Mrs Cog and I putting our opposable thumbs to good use.

Me and the Mrs

Skateboarder's picture

I have hitchhiker's thumb, born and raised.

PT's picture

Oh here we go.  Yet another article "If only them horses weren't so slow and lazy, always trying to have rest breaks and eat hay all the time, pretending that 20 tonnes is too much to carry!  The motor car and truck never would have been invented and they could have kept their jobs!!!"

Robots doing all the work?  Good.  How ever many every one else is buying, I'll take ten times that amount.  Then they can go to work for me while I stay home and do important things.

PT's picture

If the robots do all the work, does that mean I WILL get to retire after all?

gladih8r's picture

Will the robot speak with a Mexican accent? 

NoDecaf's picture

"It's all in the opposable thumb. Thankfully we come equipped with two so we can hitchhike to the next town looking for work."


That's only if the google car has thumb recognition software...otherwise get to walkin' human!

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

Is that a 'gimmiedat T-1000' model?

PT's picture

The google car don't work for free.  If your credit card is empty then you're walking.

But perhaps the banksters will put out a credit card that is never empty.  They're suckers for debt that way.  I often wonder if my biggest mistake was that I did NOT embrace Ponzi debt.

Majestic12's picture

"If the robots do all the work, does that mean I WILL get to retire after all?"

Not until they release the "ass-picking" robot.

techpriest's picture

Hey man, once you can have a robotic business going for $10k, I would imagine that the use is going to explode. Instead of buying stocks, you buy a machine, and it makes money for you. by making things people actually want.

VD's picture

just wait till they start setting off bombs, shooting up the place and driving trucks into crowds.

SoDamnMad's picture

TSA just ordered 120 of these; 50 in pink for the women and 50 in blue for the men, and 20 in rainbow for the LGBTs

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Wait till the Prols hack the Bots.  Then the headline reads:

"OFFLINE Grocer..." 

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto...

CorporateCongress's picture

Don't forget the old farts from the FED dropping rates. Definitely team work here

Raffie's picture

Fruit Picking Robot?

So after it picks up the gay person, what does it do with it?

Think Elysium.

OfAllElaboratePlans's picture
OfAllElaboratePlans (not verified) Raffie Jan 31, 2017 12:04 PM

Marries a tranny Wookie and gets elected President.

Moe Hamhead's picture

So it can pick an apple off an assembly line.  That's great.  When they figure out how to "assemble" apples, that will be real useful.  In the meantime, it's less impressive than the Westinghouse robot that could smoke a cigarette --- at the 1939 World's Fair!

Raffie's picture

I think of Futurama and Bender.

The perfect CIA robot.

CheapBastard's picture

Starbucks promises to hire 10,000 refugee robots!

Boycott Starbucks!

Brew your own delicious coffee for 1/20th the price.

general ambivalent's picture

Well, this was banned in the past. But perhaps it shouldn't have been:

techpriest's picture

I actually read the article - I agree with the article that the device is in fact useless, because it rests on flawed assumptions about the dilation of pupils.

Also, it rests on the flawed assumption that homosexuality is genetic as opposed to a combination of psychology and choice.

drendebe10's picture

Stoopud fukn progressive liberal democraps are never accountable for the outcomes of their bullsht progressive liberal democrap policies. Fukemall.

Darktarra's picture

Soon Mexican'ts will create illegal immigrant robots to work along side those fruit picking robots! 

ZeroPoint's picture

Merkel said they have rights and are entitled to stay.

Laddie's picture

Which is precisely why Jimmy Carter's Ag guy STOPPED the funding of machine pickers research. He SAID as much.
And that held back agricultural mechanical pickings, but EVEN with that blueberry pickers and many other devices have been developed. SO WHY THE F--K do they keep bringing in these HORDES? I'll tell you why and it isn't really about demonrat vs Republican, just look at George W Bush, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John McCain and on and on, here is WHY, a certain GROUP Hates Whites and wants Whites GEONCIDED, that is why.

Historic Christian Church to Be Converted Into Mosque; Members Take Down Cross From Altar

Sam was fired from National Review by Bill Buckley for telling the truth about a certain group:

Mass Immigration Eats Through The Melting Pot
March 04, 2004 Sam Francis

It's also interesting he acknowledges the Jewish connection, since it's becoming increasingly obvious. Mr. Karnow, as he makes sure to tell us at the end of his column, is Jewish himself, and so, he also made sure to tell us, was Kallen. And one reason they like immigration so much is precisely because of what it does to the "Anglo Protestant core" of American civilization.

A couple of years ago, the Forward, the principal Jewish newspaper in the country, reported a remark made by Leonard Glickman, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, in explaining why his organization was promoting the resettlement of Somali refugees in the United States: "The more diverse American society is the safer [Jews] are." Mr. Glickman is not alone.

Perhaps for much the same reason, Jewish John Podhoretz, David Brooks and several others don't much like the very concept of an "Anglo Protestant core."

Unlike most conservatives, almost all of them rushed to endorse President Bush's amnesty proposals as soon as he announced them, and some like Mr. Brooks have rushed to denounce the Huntington article.

Jewish Americans played a crucial role in pushing for mass immigration throughout the last century, and there's no more reason that should be a secret than there is that Roman Catholics have pushed hard for banning abortion.

Unfortunately, there is a secret about it—because people who mention it tend to get smashed as "anti-Semites."

Obadiah's picture

Revelations 3:9

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

wisebastard's picture

i think there is a program for that.......

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

When will Robots replace Merkel and her Cabinet?

That's... Change You Can Believe In.

dasein211's picture

Robots will replace us ALL. What will your guns do against a robot army? Robot drones? Robot dogs that hunt us all down. It's like a boot stomping on a human face...forever.

Chandos's picture

All I want is for my Barista robot to spew some communist clap-trap and post-modern , post-gender musings while making a fern-like swirl on my expensive latte....A good robot should also be able to recognize a MAGA cap and adjust its banter accordingly....(Stephen Hawking voice): «Oh look...some potatoes...Ha...Ha...»

froze25's picture

So the days of the "Ditch digger" are becoming numbered. Quick more welfare!

truthseeker69's picture

Not quite. Trump has a series of shovel-ready jobs for US workforce.

Beginning with his great wall and his awesome infrastructure projects


AtATrESICI's picture

Robotic forces make the wall more practical.

OfAllElaboratePlans's picture
OfAllElaboratePlans (not verified) AtATrESICI Jan 31, 2017 12:05 PM

"Well, the world needs [robotic] ditch diggers too..."

~Judge Smails ~ for SCOTUS

flaminratzazz's picture

Humans will not be showing up at the cotton picking cotton pickers picnic,

TwelveOhOne's picture

My dad had that Smothers Brothers record when I was a kid, I still remember the very short Santa Claus song, and "my old man's a cotton picking finger licking chicken plucker" which wasn't at all dirty, but sounded it. :)

PTR's picture

They'll be participaing in the Butlerian Jihad for real this time.

Herp and Derp's picture

Penny Arcade invented something similar long ago -

AtATrESICI's picture

Robot uprising...Get them working the camps, showers, and ovens. Problem solved...

Sudden Debt's picture

 It picks up a ball at a prepositioned place....


I mean... if that's "THE TECHNOLOGY"... so groundbreaking... well, if you loose your job to something like that you should hang yourself.


grumpyoldgit's picture

as you raise the price of anybody's inputs they look for substitiutes, well whodoathunkit?

jus_lite_reading's picture

WHERE did you learn this alien concept? I mean Bernie Sanders and the whole Demonrat party is telling me that $15/hr jobs are going to make everybody rich and create more jobs like Starfucks baristas!