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.

A Q&A with Real Life Robotics CEO Cameron Waite

A Q&A with Real Life Robotics CEO Cameron Waite

By Scott Simmie


There’s a new robot – and a new robotics company – in town.

Real Life Robotics, founded by CEO Cameron Waite, is a cargo and last-mile robotics delivery firm. Its deployments utilise products developed by InDro Robotics intended for both autonomous and tele-operated missions over 4G and 5G networks. These robots, customisable for client-specific applications, are designed for long-range and large payloads.

Its first workhorse, currently doing demos for potential clients, is a unit Real Life calls BUBS. Developed by InDro, the robot is a second-generation delivery machine with impressive payload capability and a lockable payload door that opens upon reaching its destination. It’s suitable for a wide variety of use-cases and can be modified for client-specific needs.

BUBS is packed with features, including:

  • A total of six cameras, including two sets of depth perception cameras at the front and rear for greater situational awareness for the operator
  • LED running lights, signal lights, brake lights
  • Large cargo bay (50kg capacity) that can be opened and closed remotely
  • Greater all-weather protection and a touchscreen interface for customers

Just as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince had a name change, so too has BUBS. InDro’s and Real Life Robotics’ earlier development name for the machine was ROLL-E 2.0. It went through successful trials with London Drugs in Surrey, BC, for home deliveries.


Below: Bubs in action during trials in BC for London Drugs



Like most business relationships, this one began with a conversation. Specifically, a chat between InDro CEO Philip Reece and Cameron Waite in 2021. Just as InDro has deep expertise in robotics R&D, Waite has a high-level background in robotics sales and customer success. With more than two decades of experience in hardware sales, Waite was an early hire at Canadian success story Aeryon Labs, a pioneering UAV firm that was acquired by FLIR for $200M.

Waite was responsible for global sales with Aeryon, engaging with clients ranging from police and First Responders to defence, commercial inspection, “and everything in-between,” he says. He learned a lot about different use-case scenarios for the product – as well as the ability of engineers to customise capabilities of the core product line to meet the needs of clients.

From there, he went on to a similar position at Avidbots. He was, again, a very early-stage hire with significant responsibilities for helping grow the company.

“There was no revenue there prior to my joining,” he says. “I was the first sales hire at Aeryon; I was the first sales hire at Avidbots.”

So, what did he do at Avidbots?

“I was able to engage with some of the largest companies in the world – everyone from DHL to Walmart. I spent five years there, growing that organization, hiring and managing staff, sales people, but also being involved in customer success and support and product and product development. Making sure that the feedback from the clients in the field was making its way to the team to build and develop and modify and tweak that robot to better fit the needs of our clients so that our clients would continue to want to scale.”

We interviewed Waite (obviously) about his plans for Real Life Robotics, and the kind of clients that might be a solid fit for BUBS.

Below: Real Life Robotics CEO/Founder Cameron Waite in conversation with Scott Simmie

Cameron Waite RealLife Robotics



So let’s get into the Q & As.

Q: Tell us about BUBS

A: BUBS is a second-generation delivery robot. It is a large unit relative to what we typically would see out in the market. It uses a suite of sensors onboard to give it spacial and environmental awareness. We use systems like the NVIDIA Nano to process data that the robot sees in real time, which allows it to make its own autonomous decisions to navigate through the world.

The robot is large-capacity and has a locking, remotely operated lid that allows it to securely hold and transport whatever it is our customers are interested in moving. It’s a large-enough system that it can hold food, beverages, product from a store, pharmaceuticals or lab samples from a hospital, dirty linens in a long-term care facility, product on a golf course – really anything that needs to be transported from Point A to Point B.

It has indoor and outdoor capabilities, so it is weather-resistant. It can handle some pretty significant slopes and terrain. The robot, in addition to its autonomy and sensor package, utilises a radio system that allows us to have remote assistance or piloting as necessary through a WiFI connection, a 4G/5G connection, or private network. We currently use the Rogers 5G network as our backbone, and from a teleoperation or semi-autonomous perspective, we can have an operator located anywhere on planet earth and have that person remotely assist or operate the robot as necessary with under a 1/10th of a second latency. So it’s near real-time using EDGE computing.




That was the question. Here’s the answer.

A: The answer depends on the application itself. So some environments where we have a high degree of predictability and can pre-map and understand that environment, those are environments that are more conducive to fully autonomous operations. The robot can be trained using Computer Vision and AI to autonomously navigate through an entire space if that space is predictable.

Alternatively, if there is a high degree of variability, or there are safety or regulatory concerns that require a human in the loop, we have that option as well. So, for example, if a robot was to be traveling in a city environment and it needed to cross a road – that’s a complex procedure for any robot to do. And there’s likely a degree of human interface that would be beneficial to have that robot determine when and where it’s safe to cross the road. Or if a path was blocked by a large-enough obstacle, and the robot needed to exit a geofence that is pre-programmed into that operation, in order to safely manoeuevre around that obstacle, it’s likely a good idea to have a human in the loop to make that complex decision.

The more repetitive times that type of an application happens, the more a robot can be trained to autonomously execute those types of scenarios. As that robot’s deployment increases over time, the human interface required decreases. But there will always be some level of human in the loop.




A: Over the next 10 years, we will see an enormous increase in the reliance on robotics to do basic things like delivery inside municipal environments. One of the things I learned at Aeryon years ago was the importance of engaging with government early on, because government can otherwise potentially shut down your operations at a really inopportune time. And so Real Life Robotics has already engaged with a number of Canadian cities and had early approvals to allow our robots to drive around in certain automation projects in city environments.

Municipalities typically have concerns around full automation and Level 4, Level 5 autonomy. If Elon Musk and his team are not able to get approvals to drive around in downtown Toronto, how do we think we’re going to get the same approvals to drive around autonomously? We’re not. So the cities have actually really embraced the fact that our robots can have a human in the loop to make some of those difficult decisions. That helps alleviate some of the concerns around full autonomy. But we have spent the time building the groundwork to allow us to operate in their environments and we, in return, intend to work very closely with those cities to actually build the playbook, and build the ruleset and the framework around successful and safe deployment of robots in urban environments.




A: Absolutely. Our mandate is to commercialise robots. And as part of any startup growth plan, sometimes there are pivots along the way that you need to make. But in general, a client that has a real ROI potential where robots can facilitate that, and a client that has the potential for scale, that’s our expertise. With the combined benefit of having InDro, we can not only develop a very specific robot solution to solve a customer’s immediate concerns or challenges, we can also scale that robot.

Q: Why did you feel InDro was the best fit for a partner?

A: In general, InDro would be considered a world-class R&D company – hands down, bar none. And that’s why we partnered with them. The firm has an enormous skillset, including expertise with autonomy, sensor fusion and integration. Because the company has all off that, plus a large engineering staff, we’re lucky to call InDro a true partner. InDro’s capabilities and agility will help speed the path of Real Life – and our clients – to commercialisation.

Below: BUBS in action during a pilot project in Surrey, BC

Delivery Robot



Real Life Robotics issued a news release on its partnership with InDro, which you can find here. But we’ll take the liberty to borrow a section from it:

“The ground robotic delivery market is still very new,” explains Waite. “We engage with both commercial/industrial and government clients who want to lead the charge in adoption of this exciting technology we’ve created.”

Using a combination of hardware, software, and artificial intelligence, Real Life Robotics’ flagship product, called BUBS™, provides cargo and delivery automation at scale. The company’s unique Robot-As-A-Service model approach provides clients with a white-labelled, customized robot at an accessible cost, allowing businesses to realize immediate top line and bottom line impact.

“Businesses in manufacturing, retail, healthcare, agriculture and food services sectors among others can utilize BUBS™ for a variety of last-mile delivery applications with BUBS™ providing immediate solutions to labor shortages, as well as cost savings, labor efficiencies optimization while driving additional new revenue streams.

InDro and Real Life Robotics will work closely together to enhance robot offerings, as well as identify new ways of collaborating in a fast-growing marketplace.”



We’re obviously equally pleased with this partnership – and are eager to build and customise ground robot solutions for the clients of Real Life Robotics.

“Cameron Waite has deep expertise in sales and support of aerial and ground robotics, along with customer success,” says InDro CEO Philip Reece. “We look forward to creating custom solutions at scale for Cam’s clients. Real Life Robotics is the right company, with the right leader, at the right time.”

You can learn more about Real Life Robotics here. And you can reach CEO Cameron Waite here.


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