Find out how this friendly little robot evolved to make autonomous deliveries and help with last-mile deliveries.
We’ve already seen some little robots delivering around the world, in shopping malls and universities. But the very Brazilian ADA goes further — and now calls and rides the elevator solo to deliver orders in Brazilian cities.
The result of a partnership between iFood and Synkar (Brazil’s first autonomous delivery startup), the ADA robot debuted in 2021 to optimise the work of delivery men and women and is still constantly evolving. Today, five ADAs are in operation between the iFood office and Synkar’s headquarters in Ribeirão Preto.
Its latest achievement is delivering to buildings and being able to autonomously take the elevator. “It is important for ADA to be able to operate in a vertical condominium, covering the last mile of delivery, which is the route between the reception and customers”, explains Estella Araújo, from the sustainability team at iFood.
The ability to call and ride an elevator was developed and tested at iFood’s headquarters in Osasco. There, ADA has so far made ten deliveries this way.
“It is a sustainable mode of development”, emphasises Estella. “We are looking for innovations for ADA, following what other robots of this type have done in the international market.”
“The rise of clean deliveries in the delivery industry depends largely on the discovery of disruptive and innovative projects”, says Bruno Pieroni, sustainability coordinator at iFood. “Within our vision, the ADA project has the potential to be one of the paths towards decarbonising our operations in the future.”
The evolution of ADA
ADA started its innovative work through iFood in 2021 at the Iguatemi shopping centre in Ribeirão Preto. It made the first mile of deliveries there, picking up orders from restaurants furthest from the food court and taking them to the hub where delivery people picked up the food to deliver it to customers.
In 2022, the little robot was tested in a condominium of houses, also in Ribeirão Preto. There, it transported orders in the ‘last mile’ of deliveries: between the reception and the customers’ doors.
This year, ADA faced a new challenge: riding an elevator to make autonomous deliveries to buildings without any human assistance. For this to happen, it was necessary to understand how to establish a connection system between ADA and the elevator — something unprecedented in Brazil and Latin America.
The solution was completed in August 2023. “Today, it is completely stable, safe and functional”, says Estella. “ADA is the first delivery robot that can go up an elevator autonomously.”
IoT meets AI
For ADA to take the elevator, a little preparation was required. An IoT (Internet of Things) device was installed in the engine room at iFood headquarters. It is through this device that ADA gets notified that it needs to use the elevator.
The IoT system then establishes a connection between ADA’s artificial intelligence and the elevator’s automation mechanism, informing the floor and room to which the robot should deliver the order. Based on this information, the elevator takes ADA to its destination.
Integration with a digital menu
In addition to the integration with elevators, ADA recently also gained another new function: a connection with Anota AI, an order automation system with a virtual attendant for social networks, a digital menu and an order manager.
At iFood’s headquarters, QR codes were distributed with a link to Anota AI’s WhatsApp. “Whoever wants to place an order scans this QR Code and enters a WhatsApp conversation”, explains Estella. “In this conversation, a person can select the order items from the menu and indicate to which room ADA should deliver the items.”
The order manager is also connected to the building’s cafeteria, which will receive the demand to prepare the food or drink and then send it out through the robot.
When it arrives at its destination, ADA notifies you via a voice system that it is there to make a delivery. “ADA doesn’t enter the room. It stops at the door and waits for the person to come and collect the order,” says Estella. Then, ADA automatically returns to the cafeteria, waiting for its next mission.
Another innovation made possible for ADA at the iFood headquarters is the autonomous charging of its batteries – the robot moves itself to the station where it will be recharged. It is a further improvement that will facilitate the operation of ADA in large residential or office condominiums.
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