Is the solution to long-drive thru lines a robotic carhop?1 That is just one of the many potential use cases for Ottonomy’s delivery robots. Ottonomy CEO, Ritukar Vijay explains that the focus of their two-year-old company is the following segments:
- Airports/Resort Delivery
- Curbside Delivery
- Last Mile Delivery
With their initial deployment, at the Cincinnati International Airport, they are able to avoid the issues associated with outdoor, last-mile delivery; issues such as poor sidewalk infrastructure, weather, and interactions with automobiles. With that said, Vijay indicates that the indoor environment is also a challenge with a crying toddler as an example of an obstacle.2
It uses robotics as a service model, in which the company provides automated delivery services to restaurants and retailers on a subscription basis. In the case of the Cincinnati airport example,
- a customer orders food via an app
- the order is prepared and placed in the wheeled robot by a concession or restaurant staff
- the robot navigates through the terminal
- the customer scans the code, which opens a door on the robot, revealing the payload.
Vijay indicates that people are adopting the technology as they saw approximately 450 orders in 25 days of launch at the airport. He suggests that for curbside deliveries they see 60 to 80 deliveries for their subscription model to make sense. As it is a service, Ottonomy handles the backend and provides interfaces to point of sales and enterprise resource planning systems.
The closing of a $3.3M seed round in August 2022 validates Ottonomy’s approach. It looks like they continue to deliver on their promise of better delivery, as at CES2023 they are launching their latest iteration of the Ottobot.
1 Carhop is a throwback to the 1950s when it was common to have a person serve food to customers who dined in the comfort of their car at a drive-in restaurant.
2 The Urban Robotics Foundation is leading a standardization effort regarding the management of robot delivery vehicles in the public rights-of-way.