Ottonomy robots deliver food, groceries, and packages @ CES 2022 - Show Notes

Ottonomy robots deliver food, groceries, and packages @ CES 2022

Friday Feb 4, 2022 (00:10:23)


Over the past few years, the idea of getting things - anything - delivered directly to your door has grown in popularity. The internet has given us access to goods and services all over the world, while the change in environment has made many of us stay in the house much of the time. To address this altered reality, Ottonomy has developed an exciting line of autonomous robots that can deliver nearly anything straight to your home or office.

Who is Ottonomy?

Ottonomy, the company behind the world's first autonomous delivery robots, is quickly gaining notoriety in the robotics industry. Its robots are designed to help navigate businesses with staffing shortages for retail and restaurant industries. Their fully autonomous robots can deliver food & beverages, groceries, and packages to curbside, last mile, and even indoor environments. These robots are available on a "RaaS" (Robotics as a Service) model. Their business customers get access to a quicker, safer, and more economical delivery option as compared to traditional 3rd party delivery services. Above all these robots are set to reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life.

Ottonomy's delivery robots

The Ottonomy robots are designed to deliver food, groceries, packages, and other items directly to a customer's home or office. They have three different robot models - the Ottobot (footprint is slightly smaller than an SUV), Ottobot Mini (for indoor deliveries), and Ottobox (a refrigerated version). The Ottobots have been tested at several locations in Canada including the Toronto Zoo, University of Waterloo, and McMaster Innovation Park. Over 15K pounds of goods have been delivered by Ottonomy robots in Ontario alone.

While this particular concept may not be new for some companies - Starship Technologies offers delivery bots that can carry up to 20lbs - few others have managed to actually put their robots into operation. Ottonomy is looking to change that by doing things a bit differently. Ottonomy has taken the time to develop relationships with local businesses in Ontario, Canada as well as with government leaders and regulators. The Ottobots are also great for shorter distances, so they can operate within smaller cities where similar delivery services aren't currently available or viable due to lack of business density and high overhead costs from full-time employees.

How is Ottonomy different?

Ottonomy partners directly with retailers & restaurants while others work more on the "last mile" segment (i.e., delivering goods from UPS). Restaurants, in particular, have been quick to adopt Ottobots because of the lack of staff during off-peak hours. For example, Ottnomoy has partnered with CVG Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio. Their robots roam the airport autonomously and will stop wherever guests have placed an order to deliver a hot beverage or a meal.


The Ottobots are currently being piloted at various locations in Canada and CVG Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio, with plans for global expansion soon. If you're interested in learning more about Ottonomy or want to see the Ottbots in action, be sure to check out their website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Scott Ertz

Episode Author

Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.


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Erin Hurst (00:07)

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Todd Cochrane (00:21)

All right, we're gonna invite our next guest up in its Ritukar Vijay from Ottonomy Inc.. So tell us about your project, or your or your product. Excuse me.

Ritukar Vijay (00:34)

Yeah. Hi. So it's wonderful to be here. First of all, thanks, Geek News Central. Alright, so we are providing contactless deliveries using autonomous robots. And we started last year. And right now we are the world's first to do autonomous deliveries at airports. And we are live at CVG International Airport, Cincinnati. So if you happened to travel to Cincinnati, you can always you know, order online, and the food will be delivered to you at your departure gate by these robots.

Todd Cochrane (01:02)

Oh, that's interesting. So you order your food, it's prepared wherever you've ordered it from, they put it in a robot and it rolls to your gate and delivers it to your gate.

Ritukar Vijay (01:11)

Absolutely. The most important thing is that these robots are completely autonomous from day one. So there's no teleoperation, it's fully autonomous. And we can do both indoor and outdoor, you know, navigation with the same tech stack.

Todd Cochrane (01:25)

So I'm kind of curious when they're autonomous from the very beginning, obviously, there's some pre planning that has to go into place, mapping, and all that. Do you have additional support for the robots when they're driving? Do they have sensors to show that they're on or on track? Or their you know, what is? How do they know where they are?

Ritukar Vijay (01:45)

So it's very interesting question. So we do not require any infrastructural change into the overall system, we move the robot once in the particular setting, and it maps it and localizes within that. Now, the interesting thing is, we use both 3D Lidar and multiple bunch of cameras to create a geometric and contextual map of the entire environment. So it doesn't really matter whether we are indoors or outdoors, we localize and navigate within that particular map so that's how it is. Most of the delivery robotics companies, they use GPS as a reference point for their positioning.

Todd Cochrane (02:21)


Ritukar Vijay (02:21)

We don't use that. And that's the reason why we are the only ones to do both indoor and outdoor autonomous navigation seamlessly.

Todd Cochrane (02:28)

So how much you know? Whenever I hear about this, though, there has to be some you say you drive it once. But if I'm going to get food from McDonald's to gate 17, you got to know where McDonald's is at.

Ritukar Vijay (02:41)

Absolutely. So we map the whole, you know, airport once.

Todd Cochrane (02:45)


Ritukar Vijay (02:45)

And once the concourse of the particular terminal is map, we know where things are. So we.

Todd Cochrane (02:50)

So then it's tied into an I'm assuming an app. Who? What app are you actually utilizing to facilitate the food ordering, delivery, and location?

Ritukar Vijay (02:59)

So that's an interesting thing, because we partner with your app providers like ordering, ordering apps, and also POS systems. So currently at CVG International Airport, we are partnered with Crave Up app, which is based out of LA, and for a couple of other restaurants, automating their curbside deliveries. We have partnered with Presto, which was a technology company. Recently we got, you know, listed using , spotless back, you know, instrument,

Todd Cochrane (03:24)

Right. So when the robot is making the delivery, I'm assuming the end, the person put the order in has some sort of past code to put in to get it into the device to get his delivery? Or does it know the app, this is the person I'm delivering to and open up automatically?

Ritukar Vijay (03:41)

So you know, you're right, you know, the company was born in minutes of pandemic, so we wanted no touch show, you know, putting up a PIN code is a touch thing right.

Todd Cochrane (03:48)


Ritukar Vijay (03:49)

So when a person place places an order, there's a unique order ID which is generated. We generate a QR code based on that. And that QR code stays with the staff.

Todd Cochrane (03:58)


Ritukar Vijay (03:58)

And the customer.

Todd Cochrane (03:59)


Ritukar Vijay (03:59)

Staff uses that, you know, QR code scanning, to put the items in, and the customer uses the QR code for, you know, retrieving the item. So they don't have to touch anything.

Todd Cochrane (04:09)

How many deliveries can the robot? Is it just one to one or can they do one too many with the robot?

Ritukar Vijay (04:16)

So we have two compartments, two separate compartments, and two specific doors on the robot itself. So two deliveries per trip is something which we can do at this point.

Todd Cochrane (04:26)

So in your test case out of or not a test case, but this usage out of Cleveland, then what have you seen the usage rate be? People using it quite a bit or?

Ritukar Vijay (04:37)

It is increasing. So we had, you know, relicensed last 25 30 days now. And it's almost 400 or you know, all deliveries already done.

Todd Cochrane (04:47)


Ritukar Vijay (04:47)

So usage is picking up. And the interesting thing is, you know, different types of users, like the different persona of people, are using the app order and they're so excited to get things done, you know.

Todd Cochrane (04:59)

All right

Ritukar Vijay (05:00)

To be delivered by a robot.

Todd Cochrane (05:01)

So oftentimes airports can be pretty crazy. Yeah, I've run from gates to gates, the last thing I want to do is run over a robot. So how do you? I'm sure there's a flag or something? How do you keep the robot from interfering with normal traffic in the airport?

Ritukar Vijay (05:17)

So there are a lot of robotic companies, which are like, small robots below your knee.

Todd Cochrane (05:21)


Ritukar Vijay (05:21)

There's always a risk of tipping over.

Todd Cochrane (05:23)


Ritukar Vijay (05:23)

And apart from running, people are engaged on their phone.

Todd Cochrane (05:26)


Ritukar Vijay (05:26)

so that's also a risk. So our robots are up to the waist height a regular person so that is higher.

Todd Cochrane (05:31)


Ritukar Vijay (05:31)

And that's what the capacity is also larger. So you can't miss out on these robots. And at the same time, the robot has a, you know, big front screen and, you know, part of verbal and nonverbal communication. So if you're upsetting the bad for, you know, for the robot, it is going to, you know, talk to you. You know, that's how the contextual information is used to autonomously navigate.

Todd Cochrane (05:52)

So what happens if someone has her suitcase parked there two or three? Does it navigate around the suitcase? Or does it ask you to move the suitcase?

Ritukar Vijay (05:59)

It navigates around the suitcase.

Todd Cochrane (06:01)

Okay, awesome. So that's pretty interesting. So how's the reaction? I'm just kind of curious how the general public's reaction is to this.

Ritukar Vijay (06:09)

So the general public is really excited. So you know, different type of users, even kids up to like, six to seven years old. You know, they love taking out things out of the robot. And, you know, the usage is increasing. So 400 orders like in last 20 to 25 days, it's a good number.

Todd Cochrane (06:26)


Ritukar Vijay (06:27)

And interestingly, the app usage is, you know, whether people are ordering or not, that is something which is different. But our core focus is to deliver 100%. The number of orders received should be delivered. So that's something which is 100% autonomous.

Todd Cochrane (06:41)


Ritukar Vijay (06:41)

100% delivered. And so far, so good.

Todd Cochrane (06:44)

Well, that's awesome. within O.

Ritukar Vijay (06:49)


Todd Cochrane (06:50)

Ottonomy. What's the future here? I'm sure you here to show trying to garner up some business, what's the reaction man?

Ritukar Vijay (06:57)

So interestingly, you know, we are automating the curbside deliveries, apart from the airport, which is bringing the items from inside the store to the parking lot.

Todd Cochrane (07:07)


Ritukar Vijay (07:07)

So it is kind of reinventing or re, you know, giving a fresh look to the drive thru experience. Yeah, where people don't have to queue up while ordering, they can order online and still sit in the car, and the robots will get the items from point A to point B. And that is very, very important at this point in time, because the labor shortage is like killing it in states right now. So restaurants are, you know, actually welcoming such kind of, you know, any technology, which saves one extra labor.

Todd Cochrane (07:37)

You know, I think it's in my town, I live in a small town, and the fast food restaurants are decimated, they can't get help. But yet they have huge backup lines, people, you know, the basically the orders put in they it's not ready by the time you get to the window. So they're queuing people. And then they're having staff walk back and forth, walk back and forth, walk back and forth. And they'd probably they walk 10 miles a day back and forth. What is the speed? How fast is the robot? Because then, you know, is it moving at one mile per hour? Is it moving two? Do you have that flexibility to set that rate of speed?

Ritukar Vijay (08:10)

So it, you know, decides automatically based on the context? Now, if it is like wide open, it can go up to five to 10 miles per hour.

Todd Cochrane (08:16)


Ritukar Vijay (08:17)

But if it is too crowded, it kind of slows down so that it, you know, doesn't affect people around.

Todd Cochrane (08:22)

Sure. Sure. Sure.

Ritukar Vijay (08:23)

So that is the contextual navigation, which we use to moderate the speed and the behavior of the robots.

Todd Cochrane (08:28)

But if they had a dedicated robot lane, the robot could move pretty quickly then.

Ritukar Vijay (08:32)

That's true. But our intent is not to change anything infrastructure, because why we are focusing on airports and curbside is because no regulation is on top of that. So we can scale nationwide compared to last mile delivery on the sidewalks or on roads, which is still like, you know, the nationwide regulations are still yet to come in, maybe two to three years.

Todd Cochrane (08:51)

Right. All right. Awesome. Well, there you go, folks, Ottonomy Inc., and is it I'm looking at your, your shirt.

Ritukar Vijay (09:00)

That's the brand name And that's a website as well. So you can know more about Ottonomy at

Todd Cochrane (09:07)

Okay, it's So thanks for being here. Thanks for sharing exciting stuff and go to Cleveland, make sure you get the app and I would I don't like to claim that if I did, I would do it just for the novelty to try it.

Ritukar Vijay (09:22)

Yeah, you should be you know, awarded for you know, Cincinnati tourism because we are asking people to fly down to Cincinnati to experience robots.

Todd Cochrane (09:29)

So what you need to do is have it here so we can order food and have it delivered because we don't get to leave and get to eat so it should be here at CES.

Ritukar Vijay (09:38)

So next year at CES. We will have a couple of robots like that.

Todd Cochrane (09:41)

Oh. Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

Erin Hurst (09:46)

TPN CES 2022 coverage is executive produced by Michele Mendez. Technical Directors are Kurt Corless and Adam Barker. Associate producers are Nancy Ertz and Maurice McCoy. Interviews are edited by Jo Mini. Hosts are Marlo Anderson, Todd Cochrane, Scott Ertz, Christopher Jordan, Daniele Mendez, and Allante Sparks. Las Vegas studio provided by HC Productions. Remote studio provided by PLUGHITZ Productions. This has been Tech Podcasts Network Production, copyright 2022.

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