Robotics, 3D Computer Vision and the Future of Warehousing at Ocado - Questers
Robotics, 3D Computer Vision and the Future of Warehousing at Ocado
15 SEPTEBER 2016 (THURSDAY) | 18:30 – 21:30 BG TIME

Alex Harvey will provide an overview of the Ocado Technology’s vision for the future and how they are conducting research to take them in the right direction. This research then flows into multiple different parts of the warehouse systems from robotics to ensuring Ocado have not damaged products before they get delivered to the customers. The key to what they are doing is not just doing research but taking that cutting edge research and using it in Ocado’s live production environments.
Graham Deacon will then take us inside some of the work which the team are already working on. He will explain some of the technical challenges Ocado have faced and ones which are ahead.


18:30 – 19:00 REGISTRATION
21:00 – 21:30 TALKS & DRINKS

After studying Mechanical Engineering followed by Computer Science at the University in Edinburgh, Alex started his career as a software engineer and vibration analyst in the aerospace industry. He worked at a company called HGL Dynamics for a number of years and was subcontracted by HGL into Rolls-Royce as a vibration expert working on engines for the JSF and Eurofighter. Alex is particularly proud to have lead the redevelopment of the entire HGL analysis suite of applications as well as negotiating, specifying and managing the delivery, and after-sales support, of a condition monitoring and pro-active maintenance system that operates on all turbine powered Royal Navy surface ships. After joining Ocado in 2010, Alex worked as Project Manager delivering a second generation, highly efficient, goods to man picking system that has been deployed both in Hatfield and Dordon. Alex is now Head of Project Management and Research departments, responsible for a team of Project Managers and WMS (Warehouse Management System) Business Analysts and a team of Robotics & 3D Vision researchers and a Simulation & 3D Visualisation research team. In this role, Alex oversaw some of Ocado's recent projects, most notably the Morrisons eCommerce launch and the most exciting, two EU Commission funded robotics research projects (Horizon 2020) with several high profile European universities, and their many experts.


Robotics is an area that spans many disciplines requiring a broad spread of knowledge; as a first step towards this Graham acquired degrees in Engineering Science (BSc), Control Systems (MEng), Philosophy of Mind (MA) and Artificial Intelligence (PhD). After working as a university lecturer in Robotics and Mechatronics Graham worked in the automotive industry designing and installing turnkey sensor-guided robotic solutions. He then spent a spell at the BBC research labs working on synthesising novel 3D views from multiple 2D vision systems, before leading a group that developed a vision-guided sub-millimetre accurate robot to assist brain surgeons. Immediately prior to joining Ocado Graham worked as the CTO of a start-up company that used robots to fold sheet metal into curved shapes not realisable using standard metal forming techniques. Graham was hired by Ocado with a view to setting up a robotics team tasked with getting robots to pack shopping totes. As well as this core activity he has worked on the system that photographs every tote as it leaves a CFC, he is the project coordinator on the Horizon 2020 project SecondHands, which is concerned with constructing a robot system that pro-actively offers assistance to maintenance technicians, and is a Work Package leader on the Horizon 2020 project SoMa, which is investigating how to use compliant (i.e. inherently spring-like) devices to exploit environmental constraints to aid robotic manipulation. His team has also hosted two intern projects, the first developed a point of presence robot that allows people to have a virtual presence in the office, and the second, developed a system for “drag and drop” programming (using Blockly) of robots constructed out of Raspberrry Pi, Arduino, and Lego Mindstorm components to encourage children to experiment with computer programming. Graham has an adult daughter and lives with his wife and three sons in Welwyn, which doesn't give him much scope to worry about what to do with his spare time.



  • Software Developers
  • Robotics Enthusiasts
  • Everyone who is just curious and/or a true geek
  • Everyone who is willing to know more about Ocado Technology