Meet ‘ROLL-E,’ Surrey’s first Urban Technology Test Lab pilot project
A robot made a home delivery to a London Drugs customer in Cloverdale on Sept. 9 as InDro Robotics deployed its ROLL-E 2.0.
Surrey, B.C. – A robot made a home delivery to a London Drugs customer in Cloverdale on Sept. 9 as InDro Robotics deployed its ROLL-E 2.0. This was the second phase of a pilot project with the retailer using InDro Robotics ground robots to deliver London Drugs online orders to consumers. The deployment took place under the City of Surrey’s Urban Technology Test Lab (UTTL) pilot program, which accelerates innovative projects toward commercialisation.
“Responding to the need for technology testing areas, the Urban Technology Test Lab Pilot provides technology firms with access to safe, local test zones,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “Without the opportunity to field test in a real-world setting, many of the products could not proceed to final development. I am thrilled to see ‘ROLL-E 2.0’ hit Surrey streets for testing. The future truly does live here in the City of Surrey.”
On Sept. 9, 2022, Indro Robotics piloted deployment of its robotic delivery device within a private/commercial parking lot in the City of Surrey under UTTL program, which was endorsed by Council in September 2021. The UTTL pilot provides a streamlined process for innovative tech companies to receive the permits necessary to test their technologies and InDro Robotics is the first to receive a permit under this new program. The Surrey demonstration involved the four-wheeled device being deployed in the parking lot of Cloverdale Crossing Mall at 17685 64 Ave. and delivering to a home travelling along sidewalks and pedestrian routes.
“Customers were pleased with both the convenience and experience of having goods delivered to their car by robot,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “This took things further, both literally and figuratively. Delivery robots will one day become commonplace, so London Drugs and the City of Surrey are really ahead of the game.”
ROLL-E 2.0 operates at a walking pace, securely transporting goods in a sealed compartment that opens when the destination is reached. The robot has a high Ingress Protection rating, making it capable of operations even during inclement weather. It can carry up to 50kg. ROLL-E 2.0 has been custom designed for Human-Robot Interaction, featuring running lights, brake lights and signals. It also features front and rear depth perception cameras for enhanced obstacle avoidance and an interactive touchscreen.
Robotic devices are expected to play a significant role in “last-mile” delivery, with the potential to fulfill those functions with a reduced greenhouse gas footprint and lower traffic impacts that conventional delivery vans.
“Following a successful pilot debut for ROLL-E earlier this year, we are thrilled to be further exploring its capabilities as we test home delivery in conjunction with InDro Robotics and the City of Surrey,” says Nick Curalli, London Drugs vice president of technology solutions. “This is an important step for our company as we look for innovative ways to serve our customers in the safest and most convenient way.”
The UTTL was born following the City of Surrey participating in Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge in 2019. One of the key take-aways from the Smart City Challenge was that tech companies in the process of developing software and hardware frequently lack a venue for field testing. The City of Surrey has entertained other applications, including an autonomous shuttle project from the University of Alberta and SFU, and in the lead up to the creation of the UTTL, an aerial drone testing project in partnership with Stratus Aeronautics involving thermal testing.