InDro Robotics takes in NRF’s “Big Show”

InDro Robotics takes in NRF’s “Big Show”

By Scott Simmie


InDro Robotics just took in NRF 2024 in New York. And it was, as the National Retail Federation promised, “Retail’s Big Show.”

Many of the world’s largest retailers (along with plenty of smaller ones) were at the event, which is one of the biggest and most important conferences for the retail sector on the planet.

And while many of us might think of retail and its supply chain as consisting of storefronts, warehouses, manufacturing and the transport of goods, there’s a tremendous amount of technology going on behind the scenes. The use of that technology – including various forms of automation and robotics – is growing. That’s why we attended.

“I was here on behalf of InDro to identify in the retail space where the gaps are, and where hardware fits into that – how physical robots can complement some of the solutions that are offered,” explains Stacey Connors, Head of Strategic Innovations (and the happy person pictured above).

Here’s a quick overview of the event:



It really is a big show. Some 6,000 retailers from around the world take part, with more than 1,000 companies exhibiting. About 35,000 people attended the event, which this year had a heavy focus on technologies that can offer new efficiencies through every step of the retail process: Manufacturing, supply chain management, inventory control – you name it.

Most retailers, says Connors, rely heavily on software throughout that process. Highly automated systems like Amazon distribution centres are known as “dark warehouses” – because you could simply turn the lights off and most of the processes would keep on running.

For an example of just how automated some systems are, check out the video below. This system was built more than five years ago:




Pretty impressive system, right? But that’s the exception.

“The reality – and what a lot of publications like McKinsey will justify – is that 80+ per cent of the warehouses are ‘brown fields’ where there’s limited automation at all,” says Connors.

Making that transition toward more automation isn’t always a snap.

“You’re asking an existing environment to upgrade everything, change all the infrastructure. Is the width of the aisles suitable for multiple robots? Is the lighting adequate for scanning barcodes or QR codes? Is the software built to integrate with different autonomous devices?”

There are companies that are specializing, at least on the software side, in helping with that transition. SVT Robotics, for example, makes software (SoftBot) for the integration of autonomous machines with existing inventory management/supply chain software. Depending on warehouse architecture, robots can sometimes be added with minimal infrastructure changes.

And then there are manufacturers and retailers building new “green field” warehouses – where they design a new facility from the ground up that takes existing robotics technologies into account.

“When you’re building a whole new warehouse, all of these automations are very viable,” says Connors.




This isn’t the first piece of the puzzle that Connors has been examining in the retail supply chain world. She’s been immersed in this sector for much of the past year, taking in major conferences like Promat, the world’s largest gathering focussed on supply chain automation. She attended Boston’s Robotics Summit & Expo as well as IROS in Detroit. Synergically, they help form a Big Picture. Connors says the NRF retail show filled in an important gap.

“This is the other piece – how it impacts the front end, the end sale, and revenue generation. So it was a different lens to look at how robotics impacts the whole chain.”

But why so much interest in this?

We’ll have much more to say on this soon. But InDro has been hard at work on a new solution we believe will offer huge efficiencies for companies with large warehouses – and even for front-end retail operations. It is a radically new kind of solution, and we can’t wait to share it.

What we can tell you is that InDro is excited to have forged a partnership with Scanbot – a leader in barcode scanning and data capture. Scanbot’s SDK (Software Development Kit) will play an important role in our new product, and we’re pleased to be on board with them.

The success of our new venture hinges on seamless integration with existing software and operating systems,” says Connors.

“Scanbot is the clear leader in this field, and offers precisely the SDK for the job. We’re excited to be working with them.”

Below: Stacey Connors and our new Scanbot partners during the NRF show



Stacey and Scanbot



As you know by now, InDro is an R&D company. Frequently, clients come to us seeking solutions that don’t yet exist. And often, we identify problems in need of solutions. In both cases, we invent/develop new products. We are particularly inclined to develop and refine new products when we see a significant void in the marketplace.

“Inventory management is a huge untapped market,” says Stacey Connors. “Robotics and automation can offer massive efficiencies, particularly if they can be integrated into existing warehouses and showrooms without significant infrastructure changes.

“This is an area where we have been deeply focused on a solution – one we look forward to unveiling in the very near future. Trust me, there’s nothing like it out there.”

Stay tuned.

InDro Robotics hits multiple milestones in 2023

InDro Robotics hits multiple milestones in 2023

By Scott Simmie


Happy New Year!

We hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday season and that 2024 will be a good year for you.

While looking ahead, we at InDro Robotics always take this opportunity to also look back; to reflect on the year that was. In particular, we like to focus on what we accomplished. And 2023, for multiple reasons, was a very big year for us.

We designed and built sophisticated devices for some of the biggest technology companies in the world. (We really wish we could share that news, but under NDA we cannot. We can tell you that our last shipment, which took place in December, required two large transport trucks.)

And while that was certainly a highlight, there were many, many others. Let’s kick off our Year in Review with a device we’re very proud of, the InDro Backpack.

InDro Backpack



Designed for Unitree quadrupeds (InDro is a North American distributor), the Backpack mounts onto the Unitree GO1 EDU, GO2, B1 and B2 robots. And it vastly expands their capabilities. 

First off, the Backpack enables data-dense teleoperations over 5G with virtually zero lag. Using InDro’s dashboard and intuitive control system, you can remotely operate the Unitree robots from anywhere there’s a cellular connection at both ends.

But that’s not all. The Backpack contains the Robot Operating System (ROS) software libraries, along with multiple USB slots. This makes customising these robots with additional sensors a breeze, saving a lot of engineering time. The backpack also contains a pinhole camera, offering the operator a First Person View of operations. The customisable dashboard allows the user to see data flowing in from all sensors and overall system health.

This device, inspired by InDro Commander (which does the same thing for wheeled and tracked platforms), is 100 per cent an InDro innovation from the ground up. Take a look:

InDro BackPack



You may be familiar with the Ottawa International Airport’s Drone Detection Pilot Project. InDro Robotics is the core technology provider of the system, which monitors drone traffic not only immediately surrounding YOW, but from as far as 40 kilometres away.

In 2023, in addition to its regular monitoring, the system was involved with two high-profile events. First, the system detected someone flying a drone right at the airport, and in the vicinity of both a helicopter and an active runway. (This happened in December of 2022, but we could not publicly report on it until Transport Canada completed its investigation.)

The system located not only the drone (including its make and model), but the pilot as well. Police were dispatched, and Transport Canada ultimately imposed fines totalling $3021 for multiple violations of the CARs regulations. You can read our coverage here, as well as this take from Don Drones On.

The second significant event involved the visit to Canada by US President Joe Biden. Advance teams from the Secret Service and Air Force One visited YOW prior to the trip – and one of the first questions they had was whether YOW had a drone detection system in place. The system was carefully monitored during the arrival and departure of Air Force One. Thankfully, there were no incursions. Our story was picked up by sUAS News – and the CBC also covered the story:



Early this year, InDro Robotics received what we believe to be a first for a Canadian company: A US Federal Aviation Administration waiver permitting BVLOS flights for solar farm inspections in the United States.

Like our ground robots, our aerial robots are equipped for 5G teleoperation, so distance is no barrier. InDro ships the drone to the location, instructs the recipient on how to power on and visually observe – and we carry out the flight. Since receiving this waiver, we have carried out highly successful solar farm inspections in the US.

Here’s a look at how the system works.



This headline has two meanings. The first is that we were flying sub-250 gram drones continuously for several hours in a relay-like fashion. When the batteries on one drone started to drain, a second was put in the air. So it was kind of a marathon in terms of continuous drone operation.

But the bigger meaning relates to the annual Montreal Marathon. InDro Robotics was called in to take part in a research trial. It was known from previous marathons that there were specific locations where runners tended to encounter difficulties and even collapse. But with no surveillance from above, it took time both to identify a runner in distress and also pinpoint their precise location.

The drones we put in the air provided an uninterrupted live feed to a tent where they were continuously watched on large-screen monitors. Sure enough, the live video did help detect and locate runners who needed assistance. You can find our story here. It was also picked up by COPA – the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. Their coverage is here.

Below: Our crew kept sub-250 gram drones in the air for hours at the Montreal Marathon.



A major international company (a household name, truly), asked us to build a robot for them. Specifically, a research robot they could deploy in crowds of people. Engineering lead Arron Griffiths explains:

“The client wants to use Vision SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) to essentially detect humans and pathways through chaotic environments,” he says.

“Think malls, shopping centres…where humans are mingling to navigate around. And there’s no really defined path, the robot must organically move around people. Yes, you’d have an overall predetermined path with a desired destination, but once the chaos of humans comes in the robot would safely meander its way through crowds.”

The client was so pleased with the result they agreed to allow us to show the finished product. You’ll note the height – which was necessary so that sensors could be placed at roughly eye-level of the humans it avoids. You can find more technical details about the project here.

This is a perfect example of one of InDro’s key functions: A client comes to us with an idea for a product that has not yet been created. In deep consultation – and with plenty of updates along the way – InDro designs, builds, tests and ultimately delivers the finished product.

Below: The robot navigates crowds along a boardwalk

Robotic Innovations



June saw the opening of the new Drone and Advanced Robot Training and Testing centre, or DARTT, at Area X.O in Ottawa. The state-of-the-art facility was funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and in-kind industry contributions from InDro Robotics.

DARTT is the first facility of its kind in Canada, built from the ground up for the testing of ground robots (wheeled, tracked, quadrupeds and bipeds) and drones. The robot testing area consists of multiple sets of obstacles build to specific criteria set out by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Robots can be tested on various uneven surfaces, through varying aggregates (sand, gravel, etc.) and through water. There’s even an incline ramp that can be adjusted to test the ability of robots to climb.

InDro operates the facility, helping to test the limits of robots – and their operators. DARTT also contains a large netted enclosure for testing new drone technologies that might otherwise require a Special Flight Operations Certificate from Transport Canada. (Plus, the top of that large enclosure can serve as a safety net when testing drone parachutes.)

InDro offers flight reviews and advanced and specialised drone and robot training at the site. We are also planning to launch a series of Micro-Credential courses in 2024, allowing for short-duration, intensive training in specific drone technology skills.

You’ll find a more thorough story about DARTT here, as well as a video below.



It’s not uncommon for InDro to be approached to participate in research trials involving drones (the Montreal Marathon is but one example), but also in emergency situations. This year saw both.

When wildfires threatened many regions in British Columbia, the City of Kelowna contacted InDro. Might we be able to assist in mapping some of the damage? And could we use thermal sensors to detect hotspots that might be smouldering beneath a landfill?

We jumped into action quickly, selecting our partners at Spexi Geospatial to carry out the flights using their special software. That system allows the pilot to select an hexagonal area of interest (a “Spexigon”), and the drone will take off and carry out the mission autonomously. It will ensure that photos are taken at the correct intervals and a consistent altitude so the back-end stitching goes seamlessly. Plus, a pilot can fly multiple Spexigons in a single mission, allowing all of that data to produce imagery at scale. Resolution is very high, at 3 cm/pixel.

During one 2023 mission, “over 10,000 acres of imagery was captured in three days,” says Spexi COO Alec Wilson.

“We’ve made it super simple to get images in and out at scale… And we’re super-excited to be able to start building bigger and better platforms for the drone industry.”

InDro has invested in Spexi Geospatial, as we can see the value of automated image capture at scale. Already, Spexigon has carried out trials where it has captured two entire BC cities in a matter of days, with much bigger projects on the horizon.

You can read more about our work in Kelowna here, and more about Spexi here.

Below: Spexi COO Alec Wilson speaking in Ottawa at the Aerial Evolution Association of Canada’s annual conference.

Alec Wilson Spexi



InDro has previously teamed up with the National Research Council of Canada on research projects. For example, we’ve pushed several drones to their limits in the NRC’s wind tunnel in Ottawa to compare the ability of drones to withstand high winds when compared with the manufacturer’s specifications.

This year, the NRC asked if we could help with an even more challenging project: Measuring urban wind tunnels.

The NRC is interested in how drones react in urban settings, where windspeeds can be greatly influenced by architecture. Tall buildings in close proximity can turn a stiff breeze into something approaching a gale, along with producing wind shear, strong vortices and other invisible threats to drone flight.

But just because you can’t see these unusual air patterns doesn’t mean you can’t measure them. In conjunction with the NRC, we outfitted an InDro drone with two small, highly sensitive anemometers that measure windspeed. They were mounted on a wishbone-like device, allowing the sensors to be clear of prop-wash for more accurate measurement. One anemometer was mounted vertically, while the other was angled horizontally. This allows researchers to measure the precise angle of the wind, including localised updrafts and other anomalies.

Chief Pilot Eric Saczuk was the Pilot-in-Command on these challenging operations, which took place over multiple days in Montreal. The data will not only help researchers understand and predict the impact of urban wind tunnels, but may also result in useful guidelines for companies flying drones in urban environments.

 (We also carried out some research flights in Vancouver Harbour, flying through a specific corridor near congested airspace, all while measuring the quality of 5G signals throughout the flight.)

You can read about the NRC wind tunnel research in greater detail here. The image below shows the drone with both anemometers attached.

NRC Wind Tunnel Montreal Eric



One of the major highlights of the year involves InDro Robotics now offering a plethora of new fabrication and design services. In a strategic partnership with Invest Ottawa, what was known as the Bayview Yards Prototyping Lab is now called InDro Forge and under the management of InDro Robotics.

The facility is equipped with a wide array of additive and subtractive manufacturing capabilities, including:

  • CNC machining
  • Silicone and urethane casting
  • Multi-element 3D printing (including metal)
  • Electronics and Printed Circuit Board fabrication and analysis

There’s even a water jet table capable of cutting through several inches of steel.

The facility offers services ranging from one-off prototypes to design and full product development. If you can dream it; InDro Forge can build it.

Some of our other clients come to us where they have an early prototype that they’ve cobbled together. It tells them that their idea is possible but it’s not a product yet,” says InDro Forge lead Joel Koscielski. “So we’ll help them turn that into a more refined version of itself. We might do one of those, we might do five – even 25.”

Projects can be big – or small.

“Sometimes it’s just that extra bit of capacity – they themselves have never had to make a sheet metal box that looks good,” adds Koscielski.

In addition to serving clients in need of prototypes, Minimum Viable Products and limited production runs, InDro also now has the ability to fabricate in virtually any material for our own projects – which will shorten timelines.

Below: A powerful water jet table at InDro Forge. It uses high-pressure water mixed with an exceedingly fine aggregate to cut through pretty much anything with precision

Advanced Manufacturing



Another of our 2023 milestones was the design and fabrication of what we call the Street Smart Robot. Its purpose is to ensure safe winter cycling.

Canadian cyclists are a hardy bunch, and many of them don’t let the winter season stop them from utilizing bike lanes. But with winter comes hazards – ice, potholes, debris – that can pose a threat to a safe cycling experience. The Street Smart Robot (SSR) has been built to drive through bike lanes autonomously – while scanning for the above hazards and more. Once it detects an anomaly, City of Ottawa (where it’s being tested) maintenance crews will be notified.

“The idea behind the robot is we want to prolong the use of bike lanes in Ottawa, but also ensure the safety of bike lanes in Ottawa,” explains Indro Robotics Account Executive Luke Corbeth.

“There’s really two parts to this: The first is a machine vision element to see if conditions are good enough for biking – no ice, not too many leaves, etc. On the safety side, the Street Smart Robot is more concerned with detecting things like potholes and cracks. And the idea is if you’re able to identify those things, the right resources can be deployed faster and more efficiently to solve the problem in a timely manner.”




The SSR came about thanks to a research and development fund called the Wintertech Development Program. Its purpose is to support “Ontario small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their partners to validate, test, prototype, and demonstrate new products and technologies designed to meet the unique demands of winter weather conditions.” InDro matched the funds via the work it carried out.

Wintertech is run by OVIN, the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network. That’s a province of Ontario initiative which “capitalizes on the economic potential of advanced automotive technologies and smart mobility solutions such as connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), and electric and low-carbon vehicle technologies, while enabling the province’s transportation and infrastructure networks to plan for and adapt to this evolution.”

There’s a *lot* of technology packed into the SSR, including sensors and compute power to ensure both obstacle avoidance and AI/Machine Vision recognition of potential threats. Technology onboard includes:

  • Front and rear-facing depth cameras that perceive in 3D
  • Two 2D LiDAR units for obstacle avoidance and safety
  • Two 3D LiDAR sensors for Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM)
  • GPS and Inertial Measurement Unit
  • Range finder to detect the height and position of hazards like tree branches on the path

There’s a lot more to this machine, and you can find all the details here. InDro will be testing the IP67 robot in early 2024, once there’s plenty of snow and ice in Ottawa.

Below: A brief video highlights the Street Smart Robot, unveiled at TCXpo in September.



September brought the second annual TCXpo event to Area X.O. It’s Canada’s premiere showcase of Smart Mobility, with leading technology companies from across the country demonstrating their products. This year saw more than 75 firms take part with active demos, static displays, and plenty of learning sessions.

The event was sponsored by Transport Canada (that’s the “TC” in “TCXpo”), along with Invest Ottawa and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

InDro was kept busy with running demos of the new DARTT facility, putting ground robots through demanding obstacle courses and flying drones inside the netted enclosures. There were plenty of other cool demonstrations and displays, ranging from a self-driving tractor through to a remotely operated hang-glider intended for heavy cargo deliveries.

As Michael Tremblay, who was then President and CEO of Invest Ottawa, Area X.O and Bayview Yards, put it: “We’ve got incredible capability right across the country.”

It’s a great event, and one that truly highlights that the era of Smart Mobility is firmly en route. Kudos to the organizers for putting on such a great show.

Below: A few images from the 2023 TCXpo, including the InDro Robotics Ottawa team behind some of our many robots. That’s followed by a video highlighting the event.




There’s actually a *lot* more, but we know you’ve got other things to do in 2024. So just a final few highlights:


  • InDro forged a new partnership (and product) in conjunction with Tallysman on a super-accurate GNSS solution for ground robots
  • We refined our popular InDro Commander, an InDro innovation that enables remote teleoperation and the rapid integration of sensors. A smaller Commander is en route soon!
  • We welcomed – and are modifying – new robots from Unitree and AgileX (InDro distributes products from both companies)
  • We have a new Robot Operating System (ROS) drone (more to come on that soon)
  • We’ve been working hard on a new automated inventory management system, designed to simplify warehouse supply chain management




Finally, InDro attended a number of major conferences and exhibitions throughout the year. We displayed and demonstrated our products at many of them, and forged partnerships at others. Among the many events we took part in:

There were more, of course. But these were the highlights.

Below: Unitree’s new “Digit” biped robot, at IROS in Detroit

Unitree's new Digit biped



Every year at InDro Robotics is busy, with many milestones reached. But 2023 was a little bit different. There were more projects, more milestones, new partnerships – and more clients. The company continued to scale, with the hiring of many more engineers and supply chain/admin staff.

The addition of InDro Forge is a highly significant addition to our portfolio, offering rapid prototyping and custom fabrication for clients, as well as new onsite capabilities for our own projects. And, because this post focussed exclusively on InDro Robotics, we didn’t even get into the amazing things happening at sister companies Aerometrix (which focuses on gas detection) and Bravo Zulu Secure, our drone detection/mitigation operation. Look forward to hearing more about those companies in 2024.

“2023 was an exceptional year at InDro. The company continued to scale, and our engineering team yet again outdid itself with new products, new milestones – and continued commitment to hard work and innovation,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece.

“Our management and sales teams also pushed the envelope, bringing in major ongoing projects that we look forward to revealing in 2024. And our marketing and content leads made great inroads in getting out the word about what InDro’s been doing, along with our continued growth trajectory. I’m grateful to all of our staff, our clients, and our many partners – with a special thanks to Area X.O, Invest Ottawa, and YOW. Here’s to 2024!”

On behalf of everyone at InDro Robotics, we wish you a Happy, healthy, and productive New Year.

As always, if you’d like to get in touch feel free to contact us here.


Good dogs: A look at the newest Unitree quadrupeds

Good dogs: A look at the newest Unitree quadrupeds

By Scott Simmie

When people think of robots, they often picture industrial robotic arms doing repetitive work on assembly lines: Precision welding, picking and placing objects – those sorts of applications. Or perhaps a wheeled platform carrying a load from one location in a factory to another.

In recent years, however, new algorithms and technologies have led to an increase in the number of quadruped robots. These are the four-legged devices that inevitably remind observers of dogs, since they have roughly the same shape and move with a similar gait. They’re also (depending on the robot) roughly the same size as medium to large dog breeds.

The most well-known of these is likely Spot, built by Boston Dynamics. Built primarily for industrial inspections, this machine has also taken the spotlight (excuse the pun) with choreographed performances with the likes of Cirque du Soleil.

In fact, videos of Spot dancing proved so viral that Boston Dynamics produced a video to clarify that its robot is capable of much more:



Why four legs? Why not just wheels, like most mobile robotic platforms?

Good question. And we put that to InDro Robotics Account Executive Luke Corbeth.

“In most predictable environments, wheels or tracks will suffice,” he says.

“Quadrupeds excel at unpredictable terrain. You can start looking at complex infrastructure like refineries, where there might be stairs or pipes that need to be stepped over. Quadrupeds are also suitable for Search and Rescue, where there might be rubble on the ground or potentially unsafe conditions. Robots like these are very good at navigating terrain that would be impossible for a robot with wheeled or tracked locomotion.”




Unitree Robotics is one of a small but growing number of firms specializing in these robots. Its founder is Wang Xinxing, an engineer who started working on quadrupeds roughly a decade ago at Shanghai University. He built his first quadruped, XDog, by designing and building virtually everything, including motor drive boards, the master-slave architecture, the legs – and more.

All that hard work led to the founding of Unitree in 2016. And Wang and his team of engineers have never stopped trying to push the envelope. As the Unitree website explains, the company puts a heavy emphasis on R&D:

“Unitree attaches great importance to independent research and development and technological innovation, fully self-researching key core robot components such as motors, reducers, controllers, LiDAR and high-performance perception and motion control algorithms, integrating the entire robotics industry chain, and reaching global technological leadership in the field of quadruped robots. At present, we have applied for more than 150 domestic patents and granted more than 100 patents, and we are a national high-tech certified enterprise.”

We’re going to explore two new models from Unitree in just a moment, but it’s worth taking a look back at the early days. This video was uploaded seven years ago – after XDog was already in development for more than a year.




One of the new Unitree quadrupeds is the GO2. This is a step up from the GO1 EDU, which has been popular for research and development, corporate innovation parks, and even entertainment. (Yes, like Spot, the GO series can also dance – but they also do *much* more than that.)

The GO2 is a significant redesign from the GO1 series. Unitree has dropped some of the multiple cameras from the GO1 and developed its own LiDAR module, called the L1. It features a 360° x 90° hemispherical capture. With a minimal blind spot, Unitree says the GO2 is 200 per cent better at recognizing its surroundings than the GO1 series. It can detect surroundings as close as .05m away.

Because of the LiDAR, it’s obviously capable of mapping even unfamiliar surroundings and avoiding obstacles, meaning it’s perfect for Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) applications. In conjunction with that LiDAR, the GO2 features the new NVIDIA Orin Nano for powerful onboard AI-enhanced EDGE computing

“From my experience, the LiDAR does a much better job at SLAM than the depth cameras on the previous models,” says Corbeth. “The obstacle avoidance is really good out-of-the-box and it can obviously be improved on with development (GO2 is Open Source). And the Orin is a really notable upgrade when it comes to computing power.”




One of the more intriguing features is that the GO2 is integrated with Chat GPT and can respond to voice commands. You could ask it to explain Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and it would speak the answer to you. More useful, though, is that you can instruct the GO2 to carry out certain tasks by voice.

“If you say: ‘Hey, go back to where I first turned you on,’ then it’s going to return home. So that’s a practical use. This is one of the first robots that can accept voice commands out-of-the-box and literally action some of those voice commands.”

You can even ask GO2, viat Chat GPT, to generate code for new tasks. Think about that for a moment.

It’s also capable of wireless charging. The GO2 can rest itself on a small optional pad and be ready for its next mission without human intervention. There’s also an option for a servo arm if a manipulator is useful for your application. It’s faster than the GO1 EDU, capable of trotting along at 5 metres/second. The GO2 also has a significantly longer run time – between two and four hours, depending on how strenuously it’s working. Battery capacity and endurance have jumped by 150 per cent compared to the previous model.

“The locomotion – their internal algorithm for how the robot moves – is much improved. So it can go faster, it’s more reliable, it’s quieter,” adds Corbeth. Firmware upgrades are OTA (over the air), with user authorisation. The GO2 connects via 4G, Wi-FI6 and Bluetooth.

Unitree Go2 Quadruped



Though the GO2 could be used for basic industrial applications, it’s intended more for R&D and education (there’s even the option of drag-and-drop block coding). InDro Robotics is also capable of modifying the robot with our InDro Backpack – which enables data-dense 5G operation with an easy-to-use dashboard and comprehensive documentation. The Backpack also contains USB slots for additional sensors, as well as the Robot Operating System (ROS) code necessary for seamless integration.

“Anything the GO1 could do, the GO2 can do better, faster, longer,” says Corbeth.

There are even variants available – the GO2 Enterprise and GO2 Enterprise Plus – with some additional bells and whistles intended for law enforcement, Search and Rescue and other First Responder applications. Those features include dual backup communication links, a searchlight and emergency flashing lights, an additional camera and the ability for two-way voice communication.

Here’s a look at the basic GO2 in action:



Unitree’s other new quadruped is the B2. It’s an incredibly powerful, enterprise-level machine that can be deployed in even the most demanding conditions. Use-cases include:

  • Industrial asset monitoring and surveillance
  • Search and Rescue/First Responder work
  • Carrying heavy payloads/cargo over even rough terrain
  • Working in water (Ingress Protection rating IP67)

Capable of moving at 6 metres per second (21.6 km/hour), Unitree says the B2 is the world’s fastest enterprise-level quadruped.

“That’s really fast – like ridiculously fast,” says InDro’s Corbeth.

“The B2 is designed less for development and more for real commercial applications. It’s also Open Source, which differentiates it from quadrupeds like Spot, or those made by Ghost Robotics,  ANYmal, etc. So we have the option to deploy proprietary software on it that we’ve built and designed, or our partners have built and designed.”

Like its predecessor the B1, the size of the B2 is striking. It weighs 60 kg and measures 1098mm x 450mm x 645mm.

B2 Robot



Straight from the box, the B2 is ready for a variety of use-cases. With strength and endurance, this machine has been tested carrying a 45 kilogram load 7.98 kilometres on a single charge (or 20kg more than 15 km). If it’s not carrying a load, it can walk more than 20 kilometres non-stop.

The B2 can handle slopes of 45° with ease, even in rough terrain. It can even walk on greasy or oil-covered floors without falling down. (You’ll see an impressive demo involving banana peels shortly.)

Unitree has measured a 170 per cent improvement in joint performance over the B1, with 360 Nm (Newton-metres, or 265.5 foot-pounds) of torque. Run-time is vastly improved, with the B2 capable of operating between four and six hours on a mission (depending on terrain, payload and speed). The heavy-duty battery is designed for rapid swapouts, and the option of autonomous wireless charging via pad is an option.

From the factory, the B2 is equipped with a 32-wire automotive-grade LiDAR, two depth cameras, a high-resolution optical camera, and a high-capacity 45Ah (2250Wh) battery.

“And the B2 can be further customized, either directly from the factory or by InDro Robotics for specific use-case scenarios,” says Account Executive Corbeth. “We can integrate additional sensors, including thermal and even gas-detecting modules according to client needs. And, of course, we can also outfit the B2 with the InDro Robotics Backpack, which enables 5G operation and allows for rapid integration of additional sensors.”

All of those are great options to have, but Corbeth emphasizes “this quadruped is also capable of starting work straight out of the box.”




Make no mistake. This robot has been built to thrive in punishing conditions, including operating in water. It’s also very strong, capable of bearing a load of 120kg while standing. Control and perception are managed by multiple processors, including an NVIDIA Jetson Orin NX, three Intel Core i7s and an Intel Core i5. (These can vary if you’re looking for a custom factory build.) Plus, of course, InDro has expertise in modifying all of the Unitree quadrupeds pending client needs.

“InDro Robotics does have the ability to outfit these with any sensors that aren’t standard from Unitree,” explains Corbeth.

Plus, there’s also the option of wheels. The lower legs can be swapped out with wheeled versions. If the B2 is operating on flat terrain these are more efficient than walking.

“This option combines the best of both worlds between a legged and a wheeled robot – you get the speed and efficiency of a wheeled robot, yet with the other legs it can also climb stairs and manage rubble or other obstacles on the ground,” he adds.

And how does this new machine compare to the competition? Unitree says its measured parameters are superior – and there’s agreement from Corbeth.

“Compared with Spot, ANYmal and Ghost Robotics, I think we’re very competitive on the hardware side. I actually think Unitree has got to the point hardware-wise where it’s now superior to pretty much all the other options.”

Have a look for yourself:



As a North American distributor for Unitree, we obviously have faith in their products. We’ve also been partnered long enough to see the company’s commitment to continuously and meticulously advancing its products. These are excellent and durable quadrupeds, as our many clients will attest.

InDro also takes pride in supplementing Unitree’s documentation to get clients up and running quickly, and on those rare occasions when something goes wrong – we know how to repair them.

“Unitree is quickly becoming a world leader in the quadruped sector,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece.

“The new models are exceptionally well-built, with significant gains in power, run-time and processing abilities. Plus, add-ons like the InDro Backpack make these quadrupeds even more versatile for virtually any use-case scenario.”

Interested? Get in touch with us HERE to arrange a demo.

TLR – Technology Readiness Levels – explained

TLR – Technology Readiness Levels – explained

By Scott Simmie


So: You’ve got a great idea for a new technology product or process.

That’s the first step: A concept that you’ve put some thought into. Of course, there’s a long road ahead before that brilliant idea becomes an actual commercial product. But how do you gauge that progress as you move along the development path? How would you describe where you’re at in a way that others might quickly grasp?

Luckily, there’s a tool for that. It’s called the Technology Readiness Levels scale, or TRL.

“It’s a standard measuring stick for everyone to communicate where they are with development,” explains InDro Robotics Engineering Lead Arron Griffiths.

The TRL tool was first developed by NASA researcher Stan Sadin back in 1974 with seven basic levels. It would take another 15 years before the levels were formally defined, during which time two additional levels were added. There are now nine steps up the ladder, where TRL 9 is the equivalent of a working product that could be mass-produced or commercialized.

Which means, of course, that Level 1 is at the very beginning of the technology development process.

“Level 1 is universally seen as a napkin idea – where you’ve jotted down a concept,” says Griffiths.

That’s a perfect analogy for TRL 1.

For greater clarity, each level on the scale offers a short definition, a description, and examples of activities. The short definition for Level 1 is “Basic Principles Observed and Reported.” The description is “Lowest level of technology readiness. Scientific research begins to be translated into applied research and development (R&D).”

In terms of examples, Level 1 “Activities might include theoretical studies of a technology’s basic properties.” And yes, that could include a napkin sketch.

Below: Aerospace is one of many industries to use TRLs. The noise-reducing chevron nozzles seen on the cowling below would have gone through each of the nine levels. Photo via Wikimedia Commons by John Crowley.

TRL chevrons



Great! You’ve got that napkin sketch done.

Obviously there’s a lot to do between that initial idea and a finished product suitable for commercialization. To get to TRL 2, you simply need to put more thought into it. You’re not actually building or programming yet, just putting greater clarity and focus on what you hope to accomplish.

TRL 2 is defined as “Technology concept and/or application formulated.” Here’s its description:

“Invention begins. Once basic principles are observed, practical applications can be invented. Applications are speculative, and there may be no proof or detailed analysis to support the assumptions.”

You could think of this stage as refining the idea, with activities limited to research and/or analytical studies.

TRL 3 means you’re actually beginning the R&D process. This might include some lab or analytical studies. At this stage you’re trying to validate predictions you’ve made about separate elements or components of the technology. The components you’re working with aren’t yet integrated – nor is it expected that the components you’re working with are at their final version.


Before we move along, it’s worth noting there are actually two different TRL scales in use. The first (and the one we’re using here) is the NASA scale. But the European Union has its own TRL scale. 

“So there is some cloudiness,” explains Griffiths. “Typically the top and bottom of the scales are the same, but the middle moves around a bit. You have to be sure people are reading from the same scale. Typically when I talk to a client, I will show them the scale I am using.”

Griffiths also emphasizes that during R&D, the phase of development doesn’t always slot neatly into one of the TRL stages. 

“It’s typical to say: ‘We’re roughly about TRL 6’ – it’s not an exact science.”

Below: The InDro Commander module, with LiDAR sensor. This popular commercial product, which allows for rapid integration of ROS-based robots and sensors (and more), is TRL 9.

Teleoperated Robots



American inventor Thomas Edison once said: “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” The same could be said of the process of inventing a product for commercialization. Once that napkin sketch is done (the one per cent), there’s still a lot of methodical slogging ahead. (Trust us, we know.)

TRL 4 is the stage where you’re putting things together. Basic components are integrated and readied for testing in a simulated environment. The short definition, via Canada’s Department of National Defence, is “Component(s)/subsystem(s) and/or process validation in a laboratory environment.”

The logical progression continues with the next step.

“TRL 5 means it’s ready for testing in a lab environment,” explains InDro Lead Engineer Griffiths. He also adds that this middle stage – TRL 4 through 7 – “is always the difficult part.”

Once TRL 5 is passed, it’s time to start seeing if the integrated components will work together in a simulated or lab environment. At this stage, TRL 6, the product is considered to be getting pretty close to its desired configuration. Yes, there will be further tweaking to come, but you’re getting there.

Below: InDro’s Street Smart Robot (the large white unit). The product has been built but not yet deployed in winter conditions. This would be at TRL 7. Every other robot in this image would have made it to TRL 9.


SSR Street Smart Robot



All that hard work has been paying off. Your product is assembled and has been tested in simulation or other lab environment. Now it’s time to get it out into the real world to see how it performs. Congratulations, you’ve reached TRL 7, where “Prototype system [is] ready (form, fit, and function) for demonstration in an appropriate operational environment.”

“TRL 7 is more like a long-term deployment. Once you can show it to be working in a real-world environment – outside of the lab – then you get to Levels 8 and 9,” says Griffiths.

These final two levels are usually pretty exciting. Once the product/solution has been proven to work in its final form – and in the environment where it’s expected to be deployed as a product – you’ve reached TRL 8. Just one more to go.




Remember that Street Smart Robot you just saw a picture of? Well, it’s ready to go. And once the wintry conditions take hold in Ottawa, we’ll be operating that machine in ice and snow on Ottawa streets. Specifically, on bike lanes in Ottawa, where it will detect hazardous conditions (including potholes) that might pose challenges for safe cycling. City of Ottawa maintenance crews will then be notified of the problem (and its location) so they can address the issue. (You can read more about the SSR here.)

And once the SSR is operating smoothly in those intended conditions? We will have achieved TRL 9, meaning “Actual solution proven through successful deployment in an operational setting.”



It’s easy enough to describe these levels. And in doing so, it can appear to be a straightforward, linear path where engineers move seamlessly from one level to the next. Reality is not quite so simple. Depending on the project, progress in the early stages can be made very rapidly.

“Most people get up to Level 5 fairly quickly,” says Griffiths. “You can even get to Level 5 in a day if you’re doing software development – you can literally go from an idea all the way up to a basic rudimentary prototype.”

But – as flagged earlier – things get a little trickier once you hit those middle levels.

“You can think of it as walking up a hill to Level 5,” he says. “Then there’s this valley. A lot of stuff dies in Level 6 and 7. There’s not a lot of success there because once you push the technology into actual environments the success rate is very low. So a lot of time is spent in Levels 5 and 6 trying to make a system that can make it to Level 7 successfully, and then on to Level 8 – where you’re essentially across the valley.”

Below: A graphic outlines the short definitions of Technology Readiness Levels

Technology Readiness Levels



The TRL scale is extremely useful in the R&D world, in that it concisely conveys where a product is along the path to commercial development. And while it’s great for engineers, it’s also useful to help clients understand where one of our products is along that journey.

We’ve scaled this ladder many times over the years. Sometimes it’s a relatively easy climb. But, like all Research and Development companies, we’ve also had a few products that never made it beyond the valley Arron Griffiths described. That’s R&D.

“The Technology Readiness Level scale is a really useful tool, and part of our daily language at InDro Robotics,” says CEO Philip Reece. “Each level represents unique challenges – and that valley Arron described can sometimes be a disappointing bit of landscape. But we learn something even with the occasional failure.

“Thankfully, we have a creative and tenacious engineering team that seems to thrive on difficult challenges – and InDro now has a growing stable of products that have achieved TRL 9 and gone on to commercial success.”

If you’re working on your own project and would like to know where it is on the TRL scale, you can use this assessment tool from Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada.


New LIMO Pro, ROS2 models bring advanced abilities to R&D

New LIMO Pro, ROS2 models bring advanced abilities to R&D

By Scott Simmie


There’s a new robot in town. Actually, there are two of them.

They’re small but mighty. In fact, numerous universities and robotics labs already use their predecessor for high-level research. That original robot, the AgileX LIMO, was a game-changer when it came to an affordable and flexible platform. Boston University currently has a fleet of LIMOs running custom algorithms and simulations related to how real-world autonomous vehicles will interact in the Smart Cities of the future. (It’s really cool research, and you can read all about it here.)

That first LIMO was truly a ground-breaker – and remains an excellent R&D research platform. But now, AgileX has taken things further. Two new versions of LIMO offer advanced hardware, software, runtime – and capabilities.

Below: The original LIMO that started it all…

AgileX Limo Robot



Before we get into the significant changes incorporated into the new models, it’s worth looking at some of the strong features common to all members of the LIMO family. For starters, each LIMO has four steering modes: Omnidirectional steering, tracked steering, Ackerman and four-wheel differential.

All LIMOs are equipped with obstacle detection. Multiple onboard sensors can pick up on the size, distance and location of obstacles, allowing the robot to navigate its environment without conflict. The newer LIMO models have significant enhancements here, which we’ll explore in a moment.

Despite their relatively small size – so small an untrained eye might potentially mistake them for a toy – the LIMOs feature a robust, all-metal build and powerful motor. They also feature powerful onboard EDGE computing suitable to pretty much any R&D requirements.




There are really two main categories of users, with the first being those in the educational field.

“This is a great tool for anyone looking to learn ROS, because they can do all of the advanced concepts – obstacle detection, SLAM, teleoperation, to name a few,” explains Luke Corbeth, Head of InDro’s R&D Sales Division.

“And we make that really simple through our improved documentation. We’ve basically built a course around it, so it can be used for teaching students.”

The other main group of users, of course, are on the research side of things.

“It’s almost always used in labs for multi-agent systems or multiple robot projects. Because it’s multi-modal, when you’re doing a multi-agent system it can be homogenous or heterogeneous, meaning you use different steering in different robots simultaneously.”

Dimensions of all versions of LIMO are identical, as seen below.

AgileX LIMO Robot



The original LIMO is still a great robot – and is currently in use by many universities. But AgileX didn’t rest on its laurels. In response to the availability of new technologies – along with a wish-list from existing clients – the company has taken things further with its new LIMO PRO and the LIMO ROS2.

“Obviously as research in autonomy advances, so do the computational requirements,” explains Corbeth. “So it’s very important as a robotics manufacturer to stay ahead of the curve so that the hardware meets up with the current research requirements of the day.”

To that end, the new versions feature upgrades on computational power, sensors and run-time.

“The big difference is in compute – we’re moving from the Jetson Xavier to the Jetson Orin Nano on the LIMO PRO and the INTEL NUC on the LIMO ROS2. Both of these are actually massive upgrades.”

The Orin Nano is a very powerful EDGE computer. That power translates into more stable multi-sensor data fusion and speed with SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) processing.

Speaking of SLAM, the LIMO PRO and LIMO ROS2 come with a new LiDAR unit. While the original LIMO used the very capable EAI X2L unit, the new versions come with the EAI T-mini Pro.

“Plus, the battery in the new unit goes from an hour of run-time to 2-1/2 hours – with a standby of four hours,” adds Corbeth.




Not surprisingly, the two new versions also feature some software upgrades. The LIMO PRO and ROS2 versions come with Ubuntu 20.04 (the original LIMO runs version 18.04). In terms of ROS (Robot Operating System) libraries, the first generation LIMO is outfitted with ROS1 Melodic. The LIMO PRO features both ROS1 Noetic and ROS2 Foxy. The LIMO ROS2 has ROS2 Humble onboard.

Already have some of the first-generation LIMOs in your lab? No problem.

“The new models can co-exist with the original LIMO,” says Corbeth. “And if the computing demands are higher than previous applications, it makes sense of have a blend of models.”

The graphic below outlines the feature sets of the three models:

LIMO Robot Canada



InDro Robotics has a lot of clients who have put the original LIMO to use in labs and educational institutes across North America. Boston University has a very large fleet of LIMOs deployed – hard at work on multiple research projects related to Smart Cities and autonomous vehicles. They’ve proven to be a robust, cost-effective tool for high-level research.

And now, with the fresh release of LIMO PRO and LIMO ROS2, there are two more affordable options.

“This is a significant development for anyone looking to expand their current fleet of LIMOS, as well as those who have been waiting in the wings for an upgrade,” says Corbeth. “These are incredibly powerful and versatile robots/research tools, with the added bonus that the entire line is very affordable.”

If you’re interested in learning more, InDro Robotics is the exclusive distributor of AgileX in Canada, as well as a distributor for all of North America. We have built excellent documentation and manuals to assist users ranging from beginning to expert – and all of that added value and support comes with every purchase made through InDro.

For more information from someone who really knows their stuff, contact Luke Corbeth here.

BC’s Helijet announces purchase of eVTOL in Advanced Air Mobility milestone

BC’s Helijet announces purchase of eVTOL in Advanced Air Mobility milestone

By Scott Simmie


Canada has just taken a major step forward into the coming world of Advanced Air Mobility, or AAM.

Vancouver-based Helijet International, Inc. has announced the purchase of an eVTOL aircraft for crewed operations in British Columbia. The ALIA 250 eVTOL (electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) is manufactured by US-based BETA Technologies and will bring a critical step toward sustainable passenger flight to Helijet, as well as service to additional locations.

The announcement took place at Helijet’s facility in Vancouver on October 31 and was attended by BC Premier David Eby, Helijet CEO Danny Sitnam, BETA’s Skye Carapetyan, as well as JR Hammond, the Executive Director of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM). Indro Robotics CEO Philip Reece was also there for the announcement, as InDro is an Industry Partner in CAAM and has partnered with Helijet on other AAM initiatives (more on that later).

“This provincial government recognizes the potential of advanced air mobility to decarbonize the aviation sector, improve regional connectivity, improve emergency response times and introduce new manufacturing opportunities in our province,” said Premier Eby. “We congratulate Helijet on their exciting news and look forward to British Columbia becoming a leader in the Advanced Air Mobility sector.”

Though the aircraft is not yet certified, flight testing in the US is well underway. BETA intends to certify the aircraft for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations. Eventually, the aircraft will supplement the existing Helijet fleet – offering additional services to locations where the higher cost of traditional helicopter operations have traditionally made flights impractical.

“The introduction of eVTOL aircraft will not only enhance the passenger experience but also elevate Helijet’s capacity to provide essential services such as emergency response, air ambulance, and organ transfers,” says a news release issued by CAAM.

“This innovation is a crucial step forward in enhancing the overall well-being of communities in the Lower Mainland and remote regions.”

As an example of how the new eVTOL will help, Helijet CEO Danny Sitnam looked ahead to urgent medical deliveries between Vancouver hospitals “at a much lower cost, with no carbon footprint, and a quieter environment for the people below.”

Before we dive in, here’s a look at the aircraft. And while this graphic was created for the news release, don’t worry – the BETA ALIA 250 is very much a real machine.


Helijet BETA AAM



You’ve perhaps heard of Advanced Air Mobility. If you haven’t, here’s a little primer.

You can think of AAM as the next evolution in air transport. We like this high-level definition from BAE Systems:

“Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is an air transport system concept that integrates new, transformational aircraft designs and flight technologies into existing and modified airspace operations.”

Those new innovative aircraft designs will have a low carbon footprint, and generally fall within these three design categories:

  • Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL). You can think here of air taxis, patient transfers, cross-town trips in dense urban areas, and more. These machines will take off and land from Vertiports, which have a small footprint advantageous to urban centres
  • Electric Conventional Take-Off & Landing (eCTOL). These would be electrified or hybrid fixed-wing aircraft that still require runways but are more efficient to operate (and much greener) than conventional aircraft. Likely used for short trips, carrying passengers and cargo from regional and rural locations.
  • Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS). You can think here of drones, or Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These will be commonplace delivering critical goods and medical supplies, both within urban centres and to nearby communities. They will share controlled airspace with other traditional aircraft, though their operations will likely be restricted to designated flight corridors to avoid any conflict.

Initially, the transition to the world of AAM will involve crewed aircraft in the eVTOL and eCTOL space. In other words, there will be a human being piloting those aircraft. As the system and technologies advance, however, automation will take on a greater role, Pilots will be on board monitoring those autonomous flights, until a stage is reached where the flights are fully autonomous.

That’s a ways down the road. But the gears of this machinery are very much in motion. The FAA already has a blueprint for AAM and flight corridors. A large number of companies are working on new and innovative aircraft designs utilising electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion. And the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) is working closely with regulators and the industry to advance the transition.

Speaking of CAAM, we also like its AAM definition:

“Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is the evolution of air transportation created by an ecosystem of new technologies allowing people, goods, and services to move within urban and regional areas safely.”

And let’s not forget about the low carbon footprint. That’s also a big part of this revolution. Canada (and many other countries) have committed to Net Zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. That means our economy is expected to achieve that goal either by switching to technologies that emit no greenhouse gas emissions – or activities that offset those emissions (such as tree planting).

And while long-range passenger jets pose a greater technological challenge when it comes to electrification or hybrid power sources, there’s a lot of air traffic in urban areas. Plus, the use of green aircraft for goods delivery reduces the reliance on internal combustion-based ground vehicles. InDro Robotics, for example, has flown COVID test supplies from remote island communities by drone, as well as prescription medications to isolated communities. These deliveries would have traditionally relied on ground transport and ferries.

If you’re interested in learning more about AAM, we’ve written a pretty extensive primer here.

Now let’s get back to Helijet.

Below: The BETA ALIA 250 in a hover test:




BETA is building two aircraft: The eVTOL purchased by Helijet, as well as a cTOL – an electric, fixed-wing aircraft that requires a runway. Both employ a patented electric propulsion system and utilise batteries with a high energy density. They also each have a wingspan of just over 15 metres (50 feet) and can carry five passengers (or equivalent cargo) plus a pilot.

BETA started with a small but highly committed team. In less than 10 months, its first full-scale prototype, AVA, went from the drawing board to crewed test flights. Since then, BETA has grown considerably and received significant investment. In 2019, it began work on the ALIA aircraft. The company says its design was inspired by the Arctic Tern; engineers say biomimicry played a role in the design of the aircraft’s wings and long sweeping tail.

While BETA partnered with many suppliers for components of the aircraft, the company developed its own proprietary electric motor (no small feat). In 2021, ALIA flew its maiden crewed flight.

It wasn’t long before the design started catching the attention of others. UPS ordered 10 ALIA aircraft – and reserved 140 more. The US Air Force was impressed enough that it issued a special Military Flight Release. This allowed the company to carry out experimental flights with the Air Force. BETA also closed a $368M Series A funding round; Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund was one of the investors. So the company has been on an impressive trajectory.

The company builds its own charging cubes, which will be installed much like Tesla chargers. In fact, the ALIA cTOL flew 2400 miles (3840 km) over seven states in 2022, with the longest leg just shy of 300 miles (480 km). It stopped to charge on the company’s own infrastructure charging network. Down the road, you can picture some of these charging cubes at destinations the eVTOL will serve for Helijet. Those destinations won’t require runways or traditional aviation fuel.

Below: An ALIA cTOL gets some juice from the BETA charging cube:







The BETA ALIA eVTOL won’t be making its appearance with Helijet next week, next month – or even next year. There’s still the lengthy certification process to go before the aircraft can be put into commercial use.

But the announcement is still highly significant. It signals a commitment on the part of Helijet, CAAM, and the Government of British Columbia toward a low-carbon AAM world. It will open the door to servicing communities that currently do not have an affordable option for air transportation or deliveries.

And, according to BC Premier Eby, it’s a perfect fit for the province.

“British Columbia – we’re a quiet champion when it comes to the aerospace industry. One of Kelowna’s biggest employers, KF Aerospace, is obviously in the industry. We also have Cascade Aerospace out in Abbotsford – the biggest employer in the valley. And we have companies like InDro Robotics – and the CEO is here today – using large drones to deliver to remote and rural First Nations Communities out of Vancouver.”

And while Helijet’s new purchase won’t be in service for the immediate future – it’s definitely going to happen. And that’s a very big deal.

“We will soon gather again to celebrate the inaugural flight of the ALIA 250 eVTOL aircraft with Helijet,” said JR Hammond, Executive Director of CAAM. “And that day will make another historic milestone on our journey towards an interconnected aviation ecosystem.” 

Helijet started 37 years ago with a single helicopter and a handful of employees; it’s now North America’s largest scheduled helicopter airline. Company President and CEO Danny Sitman says this is a natural evolution.

“We were disrupting aviation 37 years ago…Today marks another significant milestone, not just for us but for all British Columbians… We have made a firm order for four aircraft at this time, with an option for four more. It’s an exciting time for aviation right now.”

And it is.

Below: The BETA ALIA cTOL in flight




InDro Robotics has a vested interest in the coming world of Advanced Air Mobility. We have carried out multiple missions, pilot projects and research tests related to this next phase in aviation. In fact, one of them has been in conjunction with Helijet.

InDro recently flew from Helijet’s Vancouver Harbour facility, piloting our drone through a flight corridor designed to virtually eliminate any potential conflict with crewed aviation – while still flying in a dense urban centre with regular air traffic.

We also used that flight to map the strength of 5G cellular signals at different altitudes – data that will be useful in the coming AAM world of automated BVLOS drone flights. We have also long been committed to sustainable, low-carbon footprint technologies.

“We’re pleased to see Helijet take the lead by committing to a sustainable, passenger-carrying eVTOL,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “We are truly on the cusp of a transformative phase in aviation, and we applaud Helijet, CAAM and BETA on today’s important announcement. I look forward to a flight in the ALIA when it enters service here in BC.”