Bots Going Wrong Caused a Fire in a Warehouse Near London

Ocado warehouse robots 6 photos
Photo: Tom Scott/YouTube
Ocado automated grocery warehouseOcado automated grocery warehouseOcado automated grocery warehouseOcado automated grocery warehouseOcado automated grocery warehouse
It wasn’t but a week ago that we were praising the army of robots in a grocery warehouse in the U.K., which uses around 2,300 bots to move groceries around. It seems though that these machines are not completely ready to replace us just yet.
Human error doesn’t surprise anyone anymore, but you would expect more from an emotionless machine designed and programmed to focus on a certain task and perform it flawlessly. But it turns out bots have their issues, too. An Ocado warehouse located east of London had to recently deal with a fire caused by the collision between three bots at the facility.

Luckily though, no humans were injured, and the damages were minor, but some unluckier customers didn’t get their orders delivered. The building was evacuated and the London Fire Brigade made sure the fire doesn’t spread to other areas. Operations at the facility were temporarily disrupted, but according to Ocado, the damage was limited to less than 1 percent of the grid.

The army of over 2,000 bots working in the Ocado warehouses is on duty 24/7, with the machines continuously swarming and moving around more than one million items every day. Their purpose is to move boxes with groceries in the warehouse, to get them prepared for shipping.

There’s an entire network of fully automated bots involved in the process, with each of them covering a distance of approximately 37 miles (60 km) every day, even though they are doing it in the same enclosed space.

These cute-looking minions are working extremely close to one another, passing each other at distances of only 0.1 inches (5mm), but up until now, there have been no accidents registered on the premises. All bots travel at speeds of approximately 13 ft per second (4 meters per second).

This entire “hive” as Ocado calls it, is supervised by a team of grid operators, located at the edge of the grid, which makes you wonder if this was indeed a bot error or a human one.

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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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