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Launching a Last-Mile Delivery Robot with Freedom Pilot in a Week

Stephen Hansen (Head of Robotics)
Jun 17, 2020 |



HUD interface from Freedom Robotics Pilot interface. View camera feeds, GPS, lidar, key metrics in real time.

It has always made sense to deploy last-mile delivery robots in certain scenarios, but as a result of COVID-19, the pressure is on. A WSJ headline points to this directly: The Scramble for Delivery Robots Is On and Startups Can Barely Keep Up. There have literally been robotics calls to arms - in Marc Andreessen’s recent blog "IT’S TIME TO BUILD", he laments, “Where are the millions of delivery drones?”

We have delivery customers who are scaling 10-100x and can’t keep up with the requests to build new robots. This isn’t just coming because consumers want their pizza or sandwich delivered from the place around the corner, but for delivering medical supplies in hospitals, critical goods in neighborhoods and where whole cities and municipalities are trying to purchase fleets to keep their citizens safe.

This is why we at Freedom Robotics we built Pilot. Our mission: to allow you to ship your robot now and scale to a full business without needing to build all the tools.

We’ve seen startups ship their robot into production within 72 hours of receipt of the first hardware and book revenue within the week. Here I explain how you can do the same.

How it Works

Pilot enables you to hire operators, train them on your interface and have them start doing deliveries with remote teleoperation.

You also have the ability to audit, replay and analyze your entire fleet’s performance and status to improve how you do deliveries and debug any issues which arise.

All you need is a robot platform with internet and ssh access, and you can install Freedom in one line of code to try it out. One of the startups we’ve recently worked with bought a mobile base, battery, compute, camera, and a sim card as a prototype. They then installed the Freedom Agent and started conducting deliveries with remote operators 3 days from receipt of hardware to prove out their business model.

Out-of-the-Box Capabilities

We built Freedom Robotics Pilot to be easy to try out and customize. It comes with a set of out-of-the-box capabilities and is API first so you can build out any custom functionality specific to your robot. Here are a few things you can do with Pilot:

  • WebRTC Teleoperation - View camera feeds and send commands with low latency browser to robot communication
  • Fault Expectant - Buffering, compression and fast automatic reconnect to handle intermittent internet dropouts, automatically matches video quality to bandwidth to maintain connection when bandwidth drops
  • Point-to-Click Interface - Click on an image; we send that pixel coordinates to the robot in real-time.
  • Custom Command Injection - Named static JSON payloads on topics or callbacks like unlock, dock, pause, play, brew coffee, pick a part or try again
  • GPS maps & directions view GPS and send goals, search for addresses and get directions
  • API first - We built our app on the same API we provide to all our customers - configure things how you want them.
  • Fleet-ready - Monitor and control 1 to N robots simultaneously, send a fleet wide script to command all robots at once or push all maps out
  • Dataset & report generation - Save images and data offline for reporting and ML use later


1 to N: The operator to robot ratio

In our experience, today’s “automated” robots need operators on some level. A metric we see our customers use is the number of robots an operator can manage. Ali Kashani, VP of Special Products at Postmates, referred to this as the 1 to N ratio in a 2019 WSJ article: The Next Hot Job: Pretending to Be a Robot.

Using Freedom Pilot, developing the systems to enable a better 1 to N ratio isn’t complicated. You don’t have to build complex infrastructure to deploy a delivery robot. We have even seen companies deploy with no new cloud infrastructure. Our UI is customizable, and if you want to build something completely different, it can be built with our API. Our entire app is a customer of our API - check out our API docs for more information.

Designed for robot operators to fall in love with

We have seen teleoperation of robots done globally with operators in different countries from the robots reliably execute deliveries using Freedom Pilot in deployment. Our interfaces are designed to feel like playing a video game. Operators can view critical information like fault status and distance to goal. They can log in to each robot to view camera feeds and teleop each robot (or the entire fleet) remotely.


HUD interface from live gameplay in First Citizen. Freedom Robotics Pilot interface is designed to be intuitive and draws on video games for inspiration in building intuitive Pilot interfaces.

Our team is world class, has built many companies before Freedom and comes from a diverse background of robotics, video game design, backend and frontend software development, cloud, mechanical and systems engineering. We built our operator interfaces to look and feel natural - and purposefully took direct cues from the video games people play today. This UX is important in making things feel natural from the operator’s perspective and sits on top of all of the automatic reconnection, buffering, and logging of our core APIs and platform.

Operators can expand GPS views, use address search, drop waypoints, and save and send waypoints to the robot to execute; all while watching camera feeds running on WebRTC.

Try it today!

There is too much to talk about in one article. Check out our full docs for more information on Pilot features or get going today by emailing us at hello@freedomrobotics.ai, signing up for a free trial of pilot, or pinging us on chat!

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