Real Life Robotics expands with new team, research grant, partners

Real Life Robotics expands with new team, research grant, partners

By Scott Simmie


It’s been some time since we’ve had an update on Real Life Robotics, an Ontario-based firm gaining traction with its BUBS last-mile delivery platform.

A lot has happened over the past year, with all of it appearing to point toward a solid trajectory.

“We started off 2024 with a bang – with a really exciting story that has to potential to significantly change the current trajectory of Canadian small and medium businesses from coast to coast,” says CEO and Founder Cameron Waite.

The story? Real Life Robotics (RLR) was one of eight Canadian startups selected by the Canadian Food Innovation Network to receive funding through its FoodTech Next program. FoodTech Next offers funding for early-stage Canadian technology firms who seek to be part of – or sell to – the wider food industry. Through this program, RLR will receive nearly $250,000 to test its solution in real-world environments and validate the return on investment for the food sector. 

In the current economic landscape, Canadian businesses grapple with increased customer demands for last-mile delivery and reduced profitability. Currently, most rely on third-party companies like Skip The Dishes, DoorDash and Uber Eats, which charge 20-35 per cent commissions on each order.

Automation is poised to play a critical role in helping businesses efficiently and sustainably move products from Point A to B (and even C, D, E…).

“The overarching goal of FoodTech Next is to accelerate the commercialization of Canadian innovation by generating first demonstration opportunities,” says its website.

The announcement made the news, including this CBC interview with Waite.

Below: Founder/CEO Cameron Waite making a pitch for the FoodTech Next program…


Cameron Waite RLR


When the RLR team carries out demonstrations across the country, it brings along BUBS – one of several solutions Real Life Robotics has available to customise and deploy. Out of the box, BUBS has a large cargo bay (50 kg) suitable for transporting everything from bottled water to medical supplies to prepared meals.

BUBS can be remotely tele-operated over 5G networks with near-zero latency, or carry out deliveries autonomously. It can work indoors or out and has an IP protection that makes it impervious to inclement weather (with the exception of, say, a hurricane or tornado). It has excellent obstacle avoidance and a number of other features intended for safe operation near people. It’s also perceived as “friendly” – which is important as these devices are introduced in public spaces.

BUBS can also be customised, pending client needs.

“We’re a cargo and last-mile delivery robotics platform,” says Waite. “But clients inevitably and always have some sort of unique requirement to their business in order to fully adopt and scale automation. There’s no reason BUBS can’t be bigger or smaller, or a different shape or colour – or have its cargo bay modified to carry something unique or unusual that requires modification.”

And the business model? Well, it’s not just about selling a single robot. It’s about that first robot proving its worth to the client in economic terms.

“It’s nice to say: ‘I have a robot,'” says Waite. “But our goal is really to have a robot or automation solution that has a positive business impact so that you want to scale and buy more of them. Otherwise, you buy just one.”




It’s not just BUBS. Real Life Robotics, says Waite, has another solution it’s about to unveil: A quadruped delivery robot. Having four legs instead of wheels means deliveries are not limited by stairs or rough terrain. And, in a world where businesses increasingly want their space or inventory scanned, this robot is capable of carrying out those tasks as it goes about its delivery work.

While food delivery in public spaces is clearly the focus of Real Life Robotics (and is tied to the federal grant), Waite emphasises that BUBS can be put to use in far wider use-cases.

“Right now our focus is the local delivery side of the food industry,” says Waite. “But beyond that, it could also be products – like hats at a hockey game or bottled water at a. convention centre. It all really comes down to increasing the margins for our clients while ensuring a high-quality memorable delivery experience for the customer.”

Below: BUBS, making things easier…


Real Life Robotics



Though we’ve been focusing on the robots, you can’t build a business without a team. And there, Waite says Real Life Robotics has been fortunate in attracting some A-level talent who share his vision.

The company has acquired Brandon J. DeHart as Chief Technical Officer. DeHart is the head of the University of Waterloo’s RoboHub, the epicentre of all things robotic at the university. (Waterloo’s Engineering department, according to the RoboHub website, “has the largest and most active robotics and automation research group in Canada, supporting Canada’s largest robotics and automation cluster.”)

So DeHart comes with impeccable credentials, and has the expertise to both modify products and engineer completely new solutions for RLR. He has both a PhD and a Masters degree.

“In terms of a robotics pedigree, this guy is top of the tops,” says Waite. “So we’re really, really excited about having him on board as CTO and I’m really excited to see what we can build together.”

You can read more about DeHart in this RLR blog post. And you can look at him, in the photo below…

Brandon J DeHart RLR

NEW CFO, Head of Growth


Real Life Robotics has also attracted a new Chief Financial Officer, as well as a Head of Growth.

The CFO is Ian Watson. Based in the UK, Watson spent 25 years with Price Waterhouse Cooper before venturing into the startup space. He has owned and managed several startups, and is a Canadian Chartered Accountant. Watson holds a Master’s degree in Business (McMaster University) and a BA in Economics (Wilfrid Laurier University).

“He’s deeply experienced in the financial and accounting worlds, plus he knows startups and how to help businesses grow strategically,” says Waite.

Sharif Virani is the new Head of Growth – and appears to be a great fit. Before joining RLR, Virani held a similar position with Tiny Mile, which deploys small pink robots for food delivery. The company is currently operating in Miami – and had previously been running its operation in Toronto. If you ever saw one of those little robots on the news or social media, odds are Virani was behind that.

“He’s a serial entrepreneur in the restaurant industry space – so he understands that market really well,” says Waite.

And those are just three of the recent additions to the RLR team. A total of 10 people are now part of the company, with several on the sales and operations side. Together, they bring a total of 53 years of direct experience in the robotics industry.




As Real Life Robotics prepares for its next phase of growth, the company is currently in a Series A raise round.

“The traction we’ve received – from the partnerships we’ve been developing, the grants we’ve been winning, and the client revenue we’re now generating – tells a really strong story to the investment community,” says Waite.

Below: a 360° video tour of the University of Waterloo’s RoboHub. Be sure to scroll around to see the big picture…



Cameron Waite talks a good game. But how do we safely introduce robots onto public roadways? Though Toronto now has a pilot project underway to evaluate such delivery robots, it’s not like they’re going to be embraced tomorrow.

So how can Waite be so optimistic, when public acceptance (and even permission from municipalities) is not guaranteed?

The answer, he says, has been in ground work and relationship building. RLR is also part of multiple stakeholder organisations that have been actively engaging on precisely this issue. The company is part of the following groups:

That last one? Its members are Gatik, Tesla, Uber and Real Life Robotics.

Lobbying groups are one thing. But getting the automated rubber to meet the road is another. Here, Waite reveals that RLR is ahead of the game: It has permission from five municipalities across the country to operate and test its vehicles in public spaces.

“That’s really what this government grant is targeted toward: Exploring the validity of robots in public environments,” says Waite.




Waite also says RLR has some significant partners onboard, including “an incredibly large restaurant space company.”

“This partner not only gives us some amazing insight and data that we can utilise to ensure that this technology truly has ROI and business value to that industry. They also give us some scale and scope as we grow.”

But why not name names?

“The reason is simply that we’re moving a little bit faster than their marketing team can handle.”

Waite promises some significant announcements on this front soon, and deployment of RLR robots in the streets in the near future. Again, Waite won’t reveal details but pledges that the use-case is “really cool” and will grab headlines.

“By the summer, for sure, Real Life Robotics robots will be in the field – and there will be a huge story around it.”

He adds that RLR has Indro Robotics as an engineering partner, and access to InDro Forge, a rapid fabrication and prototyping facility based in Ottawa. These two partnerships, he says, speed custom fabrication for clients, in addition to builds of entirely new robots.

Below: BUBS on the street…doing good work



We’ve been watching Real Life Robotics with interest over the past year and we’re pleased to see the terrific progress that’s been made.

“Robotics and automation can make things much easier for many businesses, but municipal permissions for more than a one-off demo have traditionally been tricky in this space,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece.

“That’s starting to shift, but you can’t have public adoption and acceptance until these devices are actually in the field. And they can’t be put in the field without the vision and cooperation of municipalities. We’re pleased to see that Real Life Robotics has made gains in this area, and congratulate them on winning that important grant. We look forward to seeing RLR robots in the streets – somewhere – this summer.”

For more information on RLR, including an investor deck, contact Cameron Waite here.

InDro Robotics and T-Mobile: A 5G match

InDro Robotics and T-Mobile: A 5G match

InDro Robotics was recently invited to attend an analyst’s summit in Bellevue, Washington State, put on by T-Mobile for Business. We were demonstrating remote operations of our Sentinel inspection robot, with Command & Control taking place over the 5G network. We were at the summit; the robot was in Ottawa.

We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, it’s worth looking at how InDro became involved with T-Mobile. It began with a different invitation. This one, from the Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI.

EPRI is a major non-profit that does research and development to improve the efficiency of power generation and delivery. As the Institute states: “EPRI’s trusted experts collaborate with more than 450 companies in 45 countries, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe.”

EPRI does a *lot* of testing within its R&D scope, often looking to find Best Practices it can share with its members. And in 2022, EPRI decided it wanted to put some ground robots to the test. Specifically, it was interested in how remotely operated or autonomous robots might be used to inspect electrical substations. These are usually remote, unstaffed facilities where high voltage is stepped down prior to being delivered to consumers (though some substations step up voltage).

EPRI invited a few ground robot manufacturers to its testing facility in Lenox, Massachusetts to see how well robots could carry out remote inspection. That facility is an electrical substation that can be energised or de-energised. It also features a set of overhead water pipes that can be used to simulate rain.

And so, earlier this year, InDro Robotics packed up Sentinel for the test.


InDro Robotics Sentinel

The 5G connection


Sentinel, like all of our ground robots (and drones), has been modified by InDro to enable remote teleoperations. By connecting to 4G or 5G networks at both ends, InDro devices can be operated from hundreds and even thousands of kilometres away. But while 4G works for many operations, 5G is the gold standard.

That’s because 5G allows for dense data downloads, virtually in real-time. Since the Sentinel robot is equipped with multiple sensors (30x optical zoom pan-tilt-zoom camera, thermal, and sometimes LiDAR), a large data pipeline is advantageous. Not only does it enable real-time, minimal latency for the operator – it also allows for direct data uploads to the cloud.

InDro, of course, is based in Canada. And the EPRI test facility is based in the US. That meant we required a high-speed, robust cellular network in the US to carry out the test.

Because InDro is an R&D company, we did extensive research prior to selecting a US carrier. We wanted to make a single choice and stick with it, given the growing number of deployments in the US.

The choice quickly became obvious: T-Mobile. Its 5G network covers the entire country, with new towers being added each week. T‑Mobile has 5G speeds nearly twice as fast as its competitors. Typical download speeds on T‑Mobile’s 5G network are 75 – 335 Mbps with peaks over 1Gbps.

And when we were in Bellevue on T-Mobile’s network? Just check out the speed test below:


T Mobile

T-Mobile Summit


T-Mobile got wind of us selecting them as our network of choice for US operations. The company even issued a news release on that front. And Peter King, InDro’s Head of Robotic Solutions, wrote a guest blog about the Lenox experience and why a solid 5G network is so important to this kind of work.

And all of that? Well, it led to InDro being invited to the first-ever T-Mobile for Business Analysts Summit, held in Bellevue in October. We were asked to demonstrate the low-latency and data throughput that 5G enables. And what better way than to have our Sentinel robot connected to 5G in Ottawa…with us connected to 5G in Bellevue.

Those attending the summit were invited to the InDro display, where they could operate the robot using a simple Xbox controller. Video and thermal imaging were returned in real-time. But the real star of the show was near-zero latency. Seriously, the instant the controller was touched Sentinel would respond.

The hands-on demo even impressed John Saw, a McMaster engineering graduate who’s now the Executive Vice President, Advanced & Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. Here’s John, controlling Sentinel over 5G in Ottawa from more than 4100km away:

T Mobile

It’s clear John Saw thought the experience was kind of cool – and indicative of the kind of applications 5G unlocks.

In fact, he even mentioned it to the analysts:

InDro’s take


5G connectivity is about a lot more than phone calls. The speed and bandwidth of 5G is what will power the growing Internet of Things. And our Sentinel robot, arguably, is an IoT device. Operating it using T-Mobile’s network in the US, connected to the private 5G network at Area X.O, was a snap.

“Building ground and aerial robots that can be operated from great distances is integral to InDro Robotics and its clients,” explains InDro CEO Philip Reece. “But this capability can only be realized with fast, reliable networks. T-Mobile was the obvious choice for our US operations – and we look forward to many more deployments over 5G in the future.”

Finally, a shout-out to T-Mobile for Business. Thanks for inviting us to Washington State; it was a privilege to be able to showcase our technology with the help of your 5G network.

Rogers speaks with InDro CEO Philip Reece

Rogers speaks with InDro CEO Philip Reece

By Scott Simmie, InDro Robotics

Rogers Communications, as you likely are aware, is a leading Canadian telecommunications and media company. Many of us watch television, cruise the internet, text and make phone calls using Rogers systems.

It’s also a leader in the world of 5G networks, which bring a quantum leap in wireless data transmission bandwidth. You can pump a lot of data via 5G, which opens up a lot of new opportunities for technologies like drones. For example, you could transmit crystal-clear 4K video with a drone over 5G. (We’ve already done it.)

What you might not be aware of is that InDro Robotics has partnered with Rogers on a number of projects involving flying drones over its 5G network, and transmitting real-time data back to the ground. InDro sees 5G as something of an inflection point in the world of drones and robots, paving the way for critical missions – even missions that are operated from hundreds or thousands of kilometres away.

A chat with Philip Reece

Because 5G and drones are going to be a big deal, Rogers had one of the writers from its business blog get in touch with InDro CEO Philip Reece. Specifically, they wanted to ask Philip to describe three cutting-edge uses of drone technology.

That’s a good question. And Philip was ready with some answers, which now appear on the Rogers For Business blog. Here’s a screen grab from the article:

Rogers 5G

The three examples…

It’s a good thing Philip (pictured here) was asked for only three examples, because 5G opens the door to a lot of new innovative and positive uses of drones. (InDro, if you weren’t aware, has always been interested in putting drones and robots to work doing good things.)

We don’t want to give away too much from that Rogers blog, but we will flag these three cutting-edge use-cases that Philip explores in greater detail:

  • Delivering urgent medical aid
  • Flying from public to private networks
  • Capturing critical data for First Responders

In each of the above examples, 5G plays a role in tremendously expanding the capabilities of drones. With First Responders, for example, a drone could be remotely operated over an incident by an InDro pilot – providing Responders with instant situational awareness, allowing them to focus on the task at hand instead of flying drones.

Philip Reece

Check it out…

There’s much more, of course, and Rogers captured it very well. It’s a really worthwhile read, and you can find it right here.