Robotics Research Software Engineer

£Competitive plus Benefits
Closing date
30 Nov 2017
40 hours per week
Contract type
Hatfield (Head Office)

Ocado is the world's largest on-line only grocer. Ocado Technology is responsible for the design and development of almost all the software that runs our highly automated business. The robotics research team is working on sensor-guided robotic systems to further improve the efficiency of our operation.

What does the Robotics research team do?

Our primary goal is to find the best way to deploy robots in the production of grocery orders. In order to do this, we pursue cutting edge research into state of the art algorithms, sensing technologies, and manipulation techniques.

As part of our effort to be in the vanguard of robotics research the team is involved in two European Union funded Horizon 2020 research projects with a number of leading European Universities. Outline descriptions of these projects are as follows:-

  • The SoMa project is concerned with using inherently compliant robotic mechanisms in order to exploit environmental constraints to manipulate objects with a wide variety of properties in highly variable environments. The project has attracted funding of ~7Million Euros and runs for four years from May 2015. More details of the project and the list of other participants can be found at the project's website:
  • Ocado is the project coordinator for the project SecondHands: the aim of the project is to develop a robot that will act as an assistant to Ocado maintenance technicians that is able to understand a technician's activity and pro-actively offer assistance in a timely manner, i.e. it will behave as a second pair of hands for the technician. The project has attracted funding of ~7Million Euros and runs for five years from May 2015. More details of the project and the list of other participants can be found at the project's website:

In addition to these projects, the team liaises with a number of leading UK universities performing robotics and/or computer vision research and we often host student interns.

In a nutshell

We are currently looking to expand the robotics research team. Ideally, we are looking for candidates that are happy to travel internationally, as necessary, to integrate cutting edge research work from specialist research groups into working systems that provide real-world demonstrations of significant advances in the understanding of the principles of robotics and human-machine interfaces. Although the successful candidates may spend time working on the Horizon 2020 projects the posts are permanent and will persist beyond the duration of these projects.

What I need to do

In order to make the most of the high degree of autonomy that members of the team enjoy we expect you to:-

  • Participate effectively in investigating and implementing sensor-guided robotics solutions to a wide variety of automation problems
  • Take an active role in the choice of technologies and techniques used in the delivery of robotics application demonstrators.
  • Perform mathematical modelling and algorithm development to achieve real-time sensor-guided robot motions.
  • Develop software that implements practical solutions to specific robotic applications.
  • Documentation of theoretical developments and their software implementation.
  • Demonstrate working systems and thoroughly test them to establish their operational limits.
  • Attend regular meetings to report on progress and share ideas
  • Work closely with other team members on issues relating to design and requirements.

What I need to know

Candidates are expected to have:

2:1 or 1st class degree (or equivalent) in one of the following subjects:-

  • Computer Science, 
  • Joint Maths & Computing
  • Robotics, Mechatronics, Cybernetics or another Engineering discipline with a strong software engineering component.

A post-graduate qualification, ideally a PhD, in a relevant area, or a demonstrable track record of the ability to perform novel work in a cutting edge environment on challenging projects.

Job-specific skills

Candidates are sought with strong mathematical skills and experience of using them in the development of software in a number of the following domains:-

  • robotic grasping and manipulation including soft manipulation
  • robot motion planning including compliant motion
  • impedance control
  • programming by demonstration
  • learning by imitation
  • robot task planning
  • sensor guided robot motions, particularly vision guidance
  • 3D computer vision
  • level set methods
  • machine learning (kernel methods, neural nets, HMMs, reinforcement learning)

The primary development language is C/C++ in Linux.

Knowledge of ROS would be highly desirable.

Other software development skills of interest are those applicable to distributed systems and message passing between heterogeneous sub-systems, multi-tasking/multi-threading, and real-time systems.

Candidates with experience of integrating a number of disparate sub-systems into a coherent working whole would be of particular interest.

What we can offer you

Technically stretching work is a given. We want you to push technological boundaries and create solutions to problems people haven’t even thought about yet; so we’ll give you the freedom and the tools and the playful, stimulating working environment you need to do what’s never been done before. While red tape’s conspicuous by its absence, rewards are plentiful: as well as a competitive salary and share schemes, benefits include pension scheme, interest-free season ticket loan, free bus from Finsbury Park, free shuttle bus from Hatfield train station, and, of course, healthy Ocado staff discounts (and free delivery) across our Webshops including Groceries, Fetch, Sizzle and Fabled. We also have Friday socials on the first Friday of every month, sports clubs such as badminton, running and table tennis (and many more) not to mention our frequently used football table.



Find out more about Ocado Technology at


Please note that due to the high volume of applications we will be in contact with shortlisted candidates only. If you have not heard from us within 4 weeks, please assume your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

Due to the fast paced nature of Ocado's business our vacancy close dates may be subject to change.

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