Consistent with futurists’ forecasts, robots are more and more showing up in workplaces around the world as a consequence of their capacity to function sooner and extra effectively than the people they substitute.
However a collision between three robots at a cutting-edge facility close to London, U.Okay., on Friday, July 16, means that the much-talked-about robotic takeover received’t be taking place with out the occasional main mishap.
The robots on the middle of the snafu decide and type on-line grocery orders for Ocado, a software program and expertise agency that companions with big-name supermarkets to construct high-tech warehouses geared towards supply companies.
Following the three-way pile-up, the robots caught fireplace, leading to a blaze that took round 100 firefighters a number of hours to deliver beneath management. Eight hundred workers have been safely evacuated from the power, with no studies of accidents. The robots, nevertheless, didn’t fare fairly so properly.
The upshot? Three ruined bots, a lot of burned groceries, and quite a few clients receiving messages from Ocado saying their order had been delayed or canceled.
Ocado said later that the injury brought on by the fireplace was restricted to a small part of the power, with “the overwhelming majority” of the constructing nonetheless in good situation. It added that it hoped to be working at full capability within the coming days. The corporate is but to clarify how the robots got here to collide, and what it plans to do to keep away from the identical type of accident occurring once more.
Ocado’s robot-powered system, proven within the video above, is a exceptional sight. It includes an enormous grid with quite a few washing-machine-sized robots scooting alongside on rails, grabbing ordered objects from crates earlier than whisking them off to the packing stage of the method. The shop hit by Friday’s fireplace makes use of 3,500 of the eight-wheeled robots to deal with round 150,000 orders per week.
Worryingly for Ocado (and its clients), this isn’t the primary time that its robotic expertise has been on the middle of a dangerous blaze. In 2019, a malfunctioning charging process with certainly one of its robots at one other of its amenities brought about a large fireplace that burned down your entire constructing, costing the corporate round 100 million British kilos (about $138m).