Ocado Technology and CargoPod, making a 10x difference?
Ocado Technology has recently carried out a driverless grocery delivery trial in East London as its first foray into autonomous driving. Part of the GATEway Project, the trial involved a group of engineers from Ocado Technology, Oxbotica and Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) testing a ground-breaking technology with overwhelming success.
A delivery vehicle pod called CargoPod, with no driver, navigated a community in Royal Arsenal, delivering food to shoppers, who eagerly awaited its arrival.
The Ocado Technology 10x Team
To mark the occasion, we spoke with David Sharp, who headed up the project for Ocado Technology, to discuss the trial and how his Ocado Technology 10x Team harnesses new technology to maximum advantage.
Ocado is a business that is continuously looking to innovate and the CargoPod trial marks a significant step in creating disruptive innovation in the delivery last mile. Ocado Technology’s 10x Team works on projects that push the boundaries of what can be achieved by the application of the latest practical technologies. Just as self-service checkouts brought a new semi-automated shopping experience to traditional supermarkets, autonomous deliveries have the potential to add a new way of providing deliveries to the home, with lower operational costs and good scalability.
Ocado Technology aim to put the world’s retailers online using the cloud, robotics, AI, and IoT
When looking at the wider technology landscape, it is essential for Ocado to understand who is doing what and how best to stay ahead. Continuous incremental innovation, discontinuous “10x” innovation and carefully chosen collaborations are key parts of creating a successful future.
Collaboration is key
The CargoPod was built in collaboration with teams from Oxbotica, a spin-out company from Oxford University. Despite Ocado Technology having over 950 in-house engineers, some niches, such as self-driving vehicle technologies and cloud computing technologies are evolving at a such a rapid pace that it makes sense for Ocado Technology to seek out strategic partnerships with companies who are leaders in these fields, such as Oxbotica, Google and Amazon AWS.
This approach allows Ocado Technology to focus on those areas where it can innovate and develop its own Intellectual Property (IP).
The self driving CargoPod was made possible by collaboration between Ocado and Oxbotica
If collaboration is the starting point for autonomous driving, what’s the long game? Ocado’s long-term goal is to be the world’s leading supplier of e-commerce grocery software, e-commerce warehousing automation and e-commerce robotics via its Ocado Smart Platform solution. The GATEway CargoPod Project is a great example of collaboration between different organisations, with technology paving the way for commercial advancements.
The impact of IP
David Sharp is also sensitive to the IP issues that surround new technologies: “Understanding intellectual property is one of the essential skills that you need if you’re going to try and run a technology business or a company that’s developing technology. In particular you need to be able to use patents as a way of securing a monopoly on your inventions whilst also ensuring that you are free to use your technology without encumbrance: you have to have an appreciation of patenting” – David Sharp, Head of Ocado Technology 10x.
At Aistemos, we value our relationship with Ocado as an industry leader and innovator. Our analytics play an important role in supporting IP strategy. When it comes to managing risk, Neill Abrams, Group General Counsel, Ocado, puts it this way: “As a leading technology company we need instant answers to who’s doing what. Cipher helps us navigate complex patent landscapes.”
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