Doora the Droid: How Tele2 5G & IoT is Enabling Robot Deliveries in Stockholm

With more people stuck at home due to Covid, there has been an enormous surge in demand for home delivery services. And since social distancing has made dining out much less likely, companies like Sweden’s foodora have filled the gap by offering restaurant delivery to your home. The result is fast growth, but also some growing pains, including recruiting enough couriers to meet the growing demand.

This is where technology enters the picture, in the form of a bright pink droid named Doora, which comes from the name foodora. Doora is being trialed on the streets of Stockholm, and it’s Tele2 5G and IoT that is powering the little droid that could… and will deliver to your home.

A few years back, when you ordered something online in Sweden, the standard delivery time was 3-5 days. As things progressed, same-day delivery started to become an option. Then pioneering Q-commerce* company foodora came on to the scene and suddenly if you didn’t feel like cooking, all you had to do was open up the foodora app, place your order, and within 30 minutes you’d be sitting down to a meal from your favorite restaurant.

“When you deliver food, it has to be fast because prepared restaurant meals get cold quickly,” explains John Denbratt, Chief Logistics Officer, foodora. “When the pandemic hit, our growth escalated and we had to hire a lot of new people, but meeting demand can be challenging – which is why we started looking into new technologies that will allow us to continue to grow. In this case it’s robots – droids – that will help us meet the delivery demands of our customers in the future.”

When foodora started talking to the award-winning self-driving droid manufacturer Yape, they realized the droid had 5G connectivity, while at the same time Tele2 was the first operator in Sweden to roll out 5G. foodora knew right away it needed a 5G partner in order to ensure the low latency needed for navigation, and that IoT connectivity is going to be crucial for communicating order details and sending optimal delivery routes to the droid in real time.

“I’m a former trainee and employee at Tele2, so my initial thought was to reach out to some former colleagues at Tele2 and see if they were interested in teaming up on our pilot with the droid,” says Denbratt. “I got directed to the IoT unit, where I was able to understand what the possibilities were, and that’s how we ended up here today.”

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Making a joint effort to launch 5G and IoT-enabled next generation home delivery service is a big and important step that will change Sweden for the better. We are a country that adopts and embraces new technology quickly and understands the possibilities tech can bring. I see both Tele2 and IoT as exemplifying that challenger spirit.

John Denbratt Chief Logistics Officer foodora Sweden

While delivery droids are already operating in other parts of the world, such as in the US and China, Europe hasn’t been quite up to speed.

“Sweden has always been a pioneering country when it comes to technology,” says Denbratt. “We don’t want to fall behind, so it’s important that we are able to successfully run these tests, as well as get the right regulatory approvals to put the droids into service.”

The first testing of the droid – nicknamed Doora – is underway, and the aim is to prove to the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) that the droid does not pose a risk to pedestrians or vehicles, and that Tele2 5G and connectivity is extremely reliable.

The foodora pilot is taking place in central Stockholm, in the city’s bustling and glamorous Stureplan area. During the pilot, an engineer will accompany the droid – sort of a co-pilot – in order to ensure everything goes smoothly. Additionally, engineers from Yape will be in the control room watching what happens through the droid’s camera, always ready to step in and steer the droid remotely through 5G access. The first pilot will be a mock delivery situation, in order to make sure everything works. The second pilot will be real – a real order to one of foodora’s partner restaurants and a real delivery to a real customer.

The first step is testing and running the pilot, but the goal is to build full integration between foodora’s backend system and the droid so that there can be direct communication.

“This means our traffic management system will be able to track exactly where the droid is and where it is heading, and it will be able to automatically accept and receive orders just like any of our couriers today,” says Denbratt. “What we’re doing with droids is enabling home delivery in a new way, while at the same time being cost efficient and also sustainable.”

5G & IoT

It goes without saying that Doora the Droid needs connectivity, because without it Doora isn’t going anywhere. 5G gives the low latency and real time communications required. When the robots are fully integrated into the foodora systems, IoT will allow them to measure a number of things, such as heat mapping and understanding how to optimize delivery routes for the droids. Even when the autonomous robots are on the streets there will still be engineers in the control room who will receive a signal if there are obstacles or other situations the robot can’t yet handle. When that happens, the engineers will be able to remotely steer Doora via 5G connectivity.

“It is great fun that we are able to carry out this test with an innovative company like foodora. This gives us the opportunity to show the concrete benefits of 5G and IoT for both consumers and companies, such as stability, fast response rates, and higher speeds. With Doora, we really show what we can do with 5G and IoT, both now and in the future,” says Stefan Trampus, Business Area Manager, Tele2 Företag.

Right now, as far as the actual droids, Foodora is working with an Italian company and also speaking with several other manufacturers. And of course, they’re working with Tele2 for 5G and IoT connectivity. This pilot is driving new business models and new technologies. In other words, this solution is enabling a lot more than just food delivery.

Facts about the test 

The Q-commerce droid Doora is being tested around Stureplan in Stockholm today and tomorrow and can transport both food and other products weighing up to 20 kg. The plan is that the pilot, together with two other players, will continue in the spring. 

Facts about Doora 
Speed: 6 km / h 
Connection: 5G 
Battery life: 8h 
Charging time: 4h 
Manufacturer: Yape 
Delivery cost for customer: free delivery  

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can enable your business, please get in touch.

*Q-commerce (Quick Commerce) is third-generation digital commerce. Launched by foodora in May 2020. Q-commerce means customers can, in addition to restaurant food, also have  beauty products, books, and technology delivered to their home in Q-speed: within 30 minutes. 
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