Ocado has expanded the 4G wireless network in its automated warehouses to allow its fleet of pick-and-pack robots to communicate more effectively.

The grocery etailer has unveiled the upgraded technology in its automated warehouses that allows over 1,000 pick-and-pack robots working in a 150-meter radius to communicate at a rate of ten times per second.

The online retailer has created the 4G-based wireless network on an unlicensed basis, which will allow the business to deploy the technology for its partners at speed.

Ocado, which collaborated with supplier Cambridge Consultants on the initiative, is offering the technology as part of its Smart Platform.

While the technology was initially designed for the etailer’s own automated warehouses, it has said it could be repurposed for other Internet of Things applications, such as smart vehicles.

‘Secret ingredients’

Ocado’s wireless team leader Adam Green said: “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 one in a tenth of a second is a whole different ball game.

“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 first started developing robots for its automated warehouses last May and installed 4G technology to enable them to communicate more effectively in February.