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Bloomberg reports that UK e-grocery pure play Ocado hit a milestone this year when it used its fleet of 1,000 robots in its warehouse to pull together “an order of 50 items, including produce, meat and dairy, in five minutes.”

What made this noteworthy was that “fulfilling a similar order at one of the company’s older facilities takes an average of about two hours.”

According to the story, “The breakthrough and ones like it could help propel the grocery business into the modern era. The industry wants to make buying food online as simple and commonplace as purchasing clothes or consumer electronics. But fulfilling fresh food orders quickly, reliably and profitably is devilishly hard … The robots are the latest addition to Ocado's automation arsenal; the company also sells software and hardware to other retailers.”

And, the story goes on: “Automation means Ocado can sell a larger variety of products, from meal-kits to high-end frozen food. It also helped the company cut waste; last year, Ocado says it threw out less than 1 percent of its inventory, compared with an average of less than 5 percent for the U.K. food retail and manufacturing sector. The software also can predict demand, so Ocado can bring in products and immediately ship them out while they're fresh. After years of reporting losses thanks to heavy investments in automation, Ocado became profitable in 2014.”
KC's View:
This is a cold, hard reality - and what it means is that the people who are going to be put out of work by robots are going to have to figure out something else to do. I know this sounds almost cruel, and there will be those who will say that these robots represent some level of cultural evil. But all they really represent is progress, and it is up to people to adapt, and figure what they can do that the robots can’t.

Of course, it also probably makes sense to pay attention if a company called SkyNet gets any publicity.