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London Drugs’ robot delivery service rolls out smoothly so far

Richmond-based company introduces Roll-E robot to curbside customers.
London Drugs' Roll-E robot has been delivering curbside orders in Victoria for the past month.

Curbside pickup customers at the Harris Green Village London Drugs store in Victoria have been getting their orders from a blue rectangular robot for the past month.

“Customers think it’s pretty cool. This notion of having robots bringing you goods in a secure way to you at the front of the store is kind of a cool thing,” said Nick Curalli, the vice president of technology solutions at London Drugs, which has its headquarters in Richmond.

Apart from the novelty, customers have also enjoyed the fact they don’t have to wait for staff to become available, Curalli added.

The Roll-E robot project is a partnership between London Drugs and InDro Robotics. The two companies have previously collaborated with Canada Post to test out the effectiveness of delivering prescription drugs to remote locations with drones.

Currently, the robot is controlled remotely by an operator from InDro Robotics, the company that designed the robot. But this task could eventually fall onto London Drugs employees.

“It’s one of the things that were evaluated... If we have multiple robots at multiple locations, or multiple robots at one location, what’s the best way to operate those robots?” explained Curalli.

Before they decide whether to test this out in Richmond and other locations, Roll-E will have to work in Victoria for just a bit longer.

“Four weeks might seem like a long time, but in the life of a pilot [project] like this, it’s relatively short,” said Curalli.

Roll-E will have to work in Victoria a little longer.

“First and foremost, safety is paramount for our staff and for our customers. So we want to make sure that this robot can be operational in a store without impeding anyone’s safety,” said Curalli.

Apart from safety, London Drugs also wants to see if the robot is able to serve customers efficiently, and whether it is cost-effective for the company.

If all goes well, Roll-E might just roll into Richmond in the near future.