Interview

AITech Interview with Ritukar Vijay, CEO, Ottonomy

Ritukar Vijay, CEO and Founder of Ottonomy shares his views on the future of robotics in a sustainable frame.

1. Tell us about your journey becoming the CEO of Ottonomy Inc. and why the name Ottonomy?

Before founding Ottonomy, Inc., I had 14 years of experience from my time in theautonomous driving and robotics space. With more than 57+ patents and research papers in robotics, autonomous driving, and Human-Robot Interaction, I led and contributed to projects including Unmanned Ground Vehicles, Warehousing Robotics, ADAS, and most recently led Aptiv’s effort for BMWs Urban Autopilot in 2019-2020. All of the robots at Ottonomy.io are autonomous from the first day and we didn’t want to be just another autonomous delivery company. We wanted to have a broad scope for all types of autonomous delivery. Ottonomy was a play on the word autonomy.

2. Recently, Ottonomy was recognized as Sustainability Product of the Year in 2021. How do you feel about Sustainability and Robotics in the same picture?

Ottonomy.IO manufactures electric and autonomous robots that ensure a reduction in carbon footprint in a significant way for both curbside and last-mile deliveries. Above all, our robots are set to reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life starting in the airport, retail, and restaurant industry.

3. How did you define the vision for Ottonomy Inc and how was the initial phase when you started the company?

While working in the domain of the fully autonomous vehicle, the founding team realized that autonomous cars will take some good time to hit the mainstream and we decided to use our expertise to solve the current generation’s problems and that delivering goods faster, cheaper, and more efficiently becomes one of the most critical needs for current times. The initial phase started with identifying scalable use cases and scenarios wherein the technology and regulatory aspects are in complete syncs – like curbsides and airports. Ottonomy is a deep tech startup providing contactless deliveries using fully autonomous robots. Our primary focus is on helping retailers and restaurants automate indoor and outdoor contactless deliveries. The company was founded in 2020, born out of the pandemic, and is the first fully autonomous robot to deliver retail and food items at an airport. Ottobot pilots started running during this time and began gathering research immediately to further develop the program. The user experience has continued to improve ever since and will continue as more rollouts launch across the country.

4. What does a normal day with the Ottonomy team look like?

Our team is extremely talented and experienced when it comes to robotics and autonomous driving technologies.

We as a team – work backward from the customer experience leading to technology.
This helps us to have “real world” challenges and problems which are then solved by our strong tech team. As a team, we are true supporters of the design-first approach to developing customer-centric products. Our offices both in the US and India work tirelessly around the clock to make significant progress every 24 hrs. It’s a common saying – “For Ottonomy, the sun never sets.” 🙂 The core team of Ottonomy has more than 50+ years of combined experience in the design, development, manufacturing, and sale of autonomous technology and we are ideally positioned for developing commercially viable autonomous vehicle solutions for enterprise customers.

5. How did the pandemic impact your business?

Ottonomy.IO was born in the midst of a pandemic and it gave our customers and team a major purpose to make innovation happen NOW instead of developing it for the future. Being a means of contactless deliveries was desired by our customers during the pandemic and the need grew as we have seen major labor shortages and huge spikes in hourly wages. This created an opportunity to aid the minimal staff with extraordinary capabilities. The company was founded after the start of the pandemic. Curbside and parking lot deliveries became extremely popular while customers were social distancing, as they enabled customers to get fast, contactless delivery, the goal was to fill a need that was happening in real-time.

6. How did you design autonomous systems to fulfill customer expectations? What made you come into the Delivery systems?

Our customers are retailers and restaurants, for them, the biggest expectation is to fight labor shortages and equip staff with automated mechanisms so that the end-user can get specific services: especially those that are difficult to provide in current scenarios.

7. Remarkably, Ottonomy deployed fully Autonomous Delivery Robots at CVG Airport. What other use cases are you planning to explore?

Ottonomy is in discussions with multiple retailers, restaurants, and airports globally to utilize Ottobots for retail and food delivery. This improves the customer experience as well as enables reach and revenue opportunities for various enterprises.

8. How do you stay inspired as a leader and stay creative? Tell us some of your favorite movies and books that have inspired you.

Zero to One by Peter Theil is a must-read from a startup’s perspective, Inner Engineering from Sadhguru for overall well-being is highly recommended. Apart from that, I always follow aspects of LOVING THE PROBLEM, instead of solutions. The thought itself gives you countless ways to make this world a better place.

9. What advice would you like to give the upcoming robotics companies?

Robotics is a very broad category, on the surface, each technology can cater to multiple industries and use cases, but try to pick one and go deeper instead of touching many just on the surface. As for the rest, I am learning 🙂

10. Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the upcoming product upgrades that your customers can look forward to?

Ottonomy has partnered with and is now located in NewLab’s office in Brooklyn for active pilots and demonstrating Ottobots capability for deployment in inclement weather conditions such as snow and rain. In addition, we are working with restaurants to transform the curbside/drive-thru experience, a concept that was first developed 45 years ago. The customer experience needs to shift with how we have evolved as a society.

For more such updates and perspectives around Digital Innovation, IoT, Data Infrastructure, AI & Cybersecurity, go to AI-Techpark.com.

Ritukar Vijay

CEO and Founder of Ottonomy

Ritukar brought 14 years of experience into the autonomous driving and robotics space before co-founding and starting Ottonomy, Inc. He managed BMW’s L4 autonomous cars from 2019 to 2020 at Aptiv, in Germany.

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