In automotive parlance, it would be called a skateboard platform. For Robotic Assistance Devices Mobile (RAD-M), it is called Roameo.
The Detroit-based subsidiary of Artificial Intelligence Technology Solutions (AITX) is taking its ROAMEO (Rugged Observation Assistance Mobile Electronic Officer) security robot and developing an AI-driven delivery robot. Still unnamed, the delivery bot will use the base platform that underpins ROAMEO and allow customers to add a body that fits their needs — cargo, temperature controlled or even platform.
“The economics on autonomous devices doing last-mile delivery are staggering,” Steve Reinharz, founder and CEO of AITX, told Modern Shipper. “You are cutting your delivery costs by as much as 85%, and on top of the cost savings, you are getting a risk reduction. Certainly, robots are not perfect, but there is much less [risk than humans].”
ROAMEO stands about 7 feet tall and weighs between 750 and 800 pounds — about 220 pounds of that is battery depending on configuration. With independently powered wheels that can rotate 270 degrees, it is capable of moving forward and backward — and even sideways.
The cargo version will be capable of carrying 1,000 pounds (including the weight of the body, so actual capacity is typically lower than this) and includes enough power that a recent test saw it tow a 4,000-pound Ford F-150 pickup, Reinharz said. It is designed to tow 2,000 pounds in normal use.
AITX (OTCPK:AITX) is looking to position ROAMEO in a different space than traditional robotic delivery vehicles.
“The ROAMEO chassis can be fit under any body style to perform any work we want,” Reinharz said. “Nuro, I love their stuff, I love what they are doing and I’m a huge fan of theirs. … But they want to run on city streets like a full vehicle. We don’t. It’s a smaller lift for us to go in and ask what do you need to get done?”
Watch: RAD-M’s ROAMEO security robot in action
Early clients are expected to be in the logistics space and campus space — “enclosed areas where we have a high volume of humans that we have to be super safe around but we don’t have to move at 30 miles per hour,” Reinharz said.
AITX has inked four Fortune 100 clients to date, two in the logistics space and two in the recreational space. Reinharz said he envisions the delivery bot working alongside humans to help move items around, whether that is in a warehouse or across business campuses.
“In the logistics space, they want us to assist the human manpower with what they call moving high-value pieces around,” he said. “In the other cases, the clients want the robots to serve and deliver food products to clients.”
ROAMEO comes with a base station that assists with navigation and doubles as a charging station. The unit is able to autonomously park itself at the station. Typical range is up to 10 miles, with 20 hours of total operation time per charge. It includes a heating “blanket” that helps keep the batteries warmer in colder weather to enhance battery life.
Initial cargo designs include a body with 12 compartments, but additional versions will be developed to suit individual needs. Its towing capacity would allow it to haul a series of pallets through a warehouse, for instance, or move other heavy items that might otherwise require a forklift.
Another feature of ROAMEO is the wheels. Designed larger than other robots allows the bot to navigate through difficult terrain easier and over curbs with ease.
“We focused on mobility,” Reinharz said.
One unforeseen issue with the vehicle is the ability to transport. Due to its large size, ROAMEO doesn’t currently fit inside standard delivery vans, including high-roof vans, so transporting to customers is more difficult. Reinharz said the company is looking at design tweaks that may lower the overall height to address this issue.
The first four ROAMEO security vehicles are being delivered in the next few weeks and the cargo versions will follow later this year. Reinharz said AITX is looking for potential customers looking for the bots to solve specific problems.
To help fund the company’s growth, AITX is looking to raise about $30 million through the selling of common shares. The company has allocated 400 million existing shares for this capital raise. Reinharz said the company is about halfway through the raise under an S-3 registration and interest has remained strong.
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