John Lewis Partnership collaborates on blueprint for human robotic interaction
The John Lewis Partnership is taking part in a new initiative to develop a blueprint for human robotic interaction.
The retailer is working on the project with The Small Robot Company, design consultancy Method and a number of leading robotics companies and industry bodies.
The project aims to foster “the safe and ethical” adoption of robotics across British industry. It will also help define how autonomous robotic technology should interact with people in the real world in sectors such as retail, manufacturing and farming.
The move follows a study by the International Federation of Robotics which found that the number of industrial robots active in the UK has grown by 30%.
The initial principles for the blueprint were presented during an event on 1 August at Google’s offices in London. There will then be a public consultation where information gleaned will be used to develop a commercial HRI guide.
The initiative follows on from the Partnership’s collaboration with The Small Robot Company where it started a three year trial of harvesting robots on the Waitrose & Partners farm last November. John Lewis Partnership’s Room Y innovation team is continuing to work closely with the company, which is assisting in the development of HRI and other propositions that could transform the retail industry.
John Vary, futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Britain is a melting pot for robotics innovation and the use of autonomous robot technology to assist human workers is a very real prospect for the future. Before we get there, we need to define how that relationship works. The John Lewis Partnership started out as a radical experiment in industrial democracy and innovation continues to remain at the heart of our business today. Therefore we are uniquely placed to support businesses like the Small Robot Company as this technology evolves.”
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