Autonomous Vehicles, New Mobility & the Built Environment Robots

Extending the Shopkeeper’s Reach with an Unattended, All-Wheel Drive Robot #CES2023

With the introduction of the Ottobot Yeti, Ottonomy is helping shopkeepers, grocery stores, and restaurateurs extend their business into their respective neighborhoods. These modular four-wheel drive electric robots allow for the delivery of goods in snowy and icy conditions that would make it difficult for even the most spry among us to navigate. This latest generation robot from Ottonomy even allows the unattended delivery of packages to lockers. 

Some of the possible uses:

  • Mail delivery (already tested in Norway)
  • Deliveries for that time when you are ready to eat your morning cereal and you discover there is no milk in the fridge (these all-seeing and quiet droids could deliver in the middle of the night when few are on the road).
  • Movement of goods from inside the store to the curbside/parking lot (a sort of dynamic conveyor belt)

In the above interview, Princeton Professor Dr. Alain Kornhauser and Ottonomy CEO Ritukar Vijay touch upon some of these various use-cases for these flexible autonomous delivery vehicles.

Ottonomy’s flexibility in its product design and its potential for so many applications lies in the roots of its founding team, which hails from automation in warehousing and driving. Vijay team has a focus of making a business out of their autonomous helpers. He projects these wheeled robots will need to make between 5 to 8 deliveries per hour to prove-in the business case.

Interview Highlights #

00:14 – Vijay introduces the Ottobot Yeti and its unique feature of auto dispensing

00:51 – The Ottobot Yeti’s maneuverability, modularity, and ability to pivot 360 degrees impressed Dr. Kornhauser. This design can serve both inside (warehouse) and outside applications (neighborhood deliveries).

04:14 – Ottonomy’s team has roots in warehouse and vehicle automation.

05:10 – There first commercial deployments were in airports (see this Viodi interview with Vijay from CES2022).

05:49 – The auto dispensing feature is for that time when a human is not around to pick up a delivery.

06:30 – Ottonomy supports the efforts of the Urban Robotics Foundation in creating an ISO standard for managing human-machine interactions on sidewalks and associated public spaces.

07:15 – Their work with the Norway Post proves these things can operate for long-last mile delivery. The snowy and icy conditions would prove formidable for the average person.

08:16 – The discussion shifts to TrentonMOVEs and whether this might be complementary to its goal of providing affordable and accessible mobility.

10:32 – Helping alleviate the labor shortage by allowing a business to leverage its workforce is big part of Ottonomy’s value proposition.

13:05 – It is a function of distance, but the rule of thumb Ottonomy is using is that 5 to 8 deliveries per hour are necessary to prove-in the business case for their solution. As Kornhauser points out, the autonomous and modular nature provides flexibility in how these are deployed, which may be the most important thing in discovering business cases that work.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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