Check out Ocado's IoT-automated factory

An Ocado van out for delivery
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ocado has demonstrated a 4G-based protocol that powers its automated IoT warehouses, enhancing productivity and efficiency.

Forming part of the online grocery retailer's Ocado Smart Platform managed service, the technology powering its warehouse robots uses the unlicensed 4G spectrum to offer a faster, more scalable connection between the automated machines.

The solution uses 1,000 robots patrolling the company's warehouses that are located within a 150-mile radius. The benefits of using the 4G technology are that it reduced lag time between robot and controller and it's highly scalable, according to Ocado, meaning if it decided to upscale its robotic workforce, the infrastructure already exists to control them.

"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," Adam Green, wireless team leader at Ocado, said.

"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."

Ocado explained the 4G technology could be used in other automated IoT platforms, such as vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity for driverless cars, air traffic control systems or large-scale industrial applications such as factories.

Ocado Smart Platform is a managed service the company has developed to help other retailers "build sustainable, scalable and profitable online grocery businesses in their own markets."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.