Ocado acquires minority stake in materials handling robotics start-up

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Ocado Group has acquired a minority stake in robotics start-up Myrmex and will take a seat on its board.

The British online grocery platform and solutions provider has secured intellectual property of Myrmex’s solutions and has appointed the Greek materials handling robotics company to design and develop a bespoke product.

Ocado Group also has the option to participate in future finance offerings.

Myrmex’s current offerings include autonomous mobile robots and intelligent asset handling systems. Its solutions enable click-and-collect deliveries, helping the retail industry to respond to the accelerated demand for smart deliveries created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alex Harvey, engineering director for OSP handling robotics at Ocado Technology, said: “We’ve been impressed with Myrmex’s capabilities and are excited about the potential synergies with our existing business.

“As the shift to online grocery accelerates, we are moving even faster in adding automation to our end-to-end offering. Myrmex can play a part in that journey.”

Myrmex targets the European, US and Middle East online markets, mostly focusing on the last-mile delivery part of the sector, offering a system capable of delivering an online order seconds after the customer arrives at the pick-up point.

The system also takes care of replenishment, returns, temperature controls, and payment methods.

Earlier this month, Norwegian robotics company AutoStore announced that it had filed patent infringement lawsuits in the USA and UK against Ocado Group.

The automated storage and retrieval systems developer is seeking court orders barring Ocado and its partner, Tharsus Group, from manufacturing, importing, using and selling technology that allegedly infringes AutoStore’s patents, as well as monetary damages.

Ocado responded by saying it had not been notified about the legal action and indicated it would fight any such claims.

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