Sonko Robotics started on 10 January 2020. Founder, Peter Scott, was congratulated on the great timing. There had been a lot of media coverage of artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘collaborative’ robots, and the economy looked to have recovered from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. In February 2020 Scott featured in a Channel 5 programme on the future of AI — which concluded that it looked great. Sonko’s AI robots would pick and pack goods in warehouses and keep track of them at every stage until they were ready for customers.
Scott made contact with about 20 retailers in the UK and abroad. Many were thrilled with the hardware and software, and talked about placing orders. Northern supermarket chain Booths was about to sign a £2.4 million order. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to that. Retailers were too busy coping with short-term pressures of demand to worry about changing any systems, and non-food retailers were closed down.
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