Ocado develops 4G-based protocol to communicate with robots

Ocado develops 4G-based protocol to communicate with robots
These highly-automated warehouses will be offered as part of a managed service called the Ocado Smart Platform
Published: 24 November 2016 - 1:04 p.m.
By: Aasha Bodhani

Ocado, an online grocery retailer, is developing a 4G-based wireless protocol used to control the robots powering its new warehouses.

These highly-automated warehouses will be offered as part of a managed service called the Ocado Smart Platform which enables international partners to build scalable, sustainable and profitable online retail businesses. The platform combines Ocado's end-to-end software and technology systems with its physical fulfilment asset solution, both of which are proprietary and fully integrated.

The protocol marks the first deployment anywhere in the world to use the unlicensed 4G spectrum for warehouse automation and guarantees a connection ten times per second to each of the 1,000+ robots roaming around the warehouse - all working within a 150 metre radius. 

Adam Green, wireless team leader at Ocado, said: "While building a robot can be a relatively straightforward task, creating a swarm of thousands of robots and making sure you can communicate with every single in a tenth of a second is a whole different ball game.

"We have worked closely with Cambridge Consultants to develop an innovative system that takes advantage of modern wireless communications principles but has secret ingredients that tailor it to our specific environment. Since the protocol works in the license-free spectrum, we can also deploy it at a moment's notice in any location around the world."

The wireless protocol can be repurposed for other IoT applications that mandate reduced communications delay between many devices: vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity for smart cars, air traffic control systems or large scale industrial systems. 


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