A toy robot

Ocado’s building a robot army

Yes, we do mean the posh online supermarket

In the last six months, three of the world's biggest supermarkets have turned to Ocado, the online grocery shop set up 18 years ago by three Goldman Sachs Bankers.

What it means: It's because Ocado has spent years developing a new distribution centre in the UK. The 240,000 square foot centre, powered entirely by Ocado's own technology and hardware (read robots) can pull together the average order in minutes, as opposed to a couple hours.

It's a huge investment, and though the technology makes Ocado's online shop better and faster, the ultimate aim is to sell it on to other retailers. The three deals Ocado's made so far have seen its share price rise by 117 per cent (that means that investors think Ocado's business is going to get more valuable, so they're buying up shares now).

There are a couple of issues at stake here, one is the bet Ocado's made on investing in  . Innovation is a big economic buzz word – essentially that you need to keep making things work better and faster to stay ahead of the game.

But the other big issue is one of automation. There's a big worry at the moment about what we're going to do when robots start doing our jobs better, faster, and cheaper than we can. Currently Ocado insists that its warehouses still employ people – they need someone to fix the robots for a start. But the ultimate aim in all this is to get stuff done without needing to pay people to do it: what do we do for work once that happens?

Read the full story (Reuters)

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