The Unseen Saviors of Robotic Delivery

September 19, 2023

On a sunny, snowy or rainy day, our robots roll around campus performing their regular operations. Pizza, sushi, and coffee are delivered to make students happier. All of the Kiwibots need to arrive promptly at your doorsteps, without any bumps (if possible). They seem to take the decisions by themselves, but, have you ever asked yourself what if a robot needs immediate technical support?

No worries, we got you. At Kiwibot, we have a Service Desk team to support with technical help during operations. This team comprises engineers who work remotely, together with the robotics and AI people, and is in charge of providing technical support for our operations. This includes our Kiwibots and all the technological infrastructure behind our deliveries.

It’s a remote engineering team that has a deep understanding of technology and is always attentive to all the incidents that occur. It also has the duty of reporting any helpful information to the company, regarding any urgent issues that must be investigated and resolved by our technology teams to continually improve the robot and its service.

The importance of a Service Desk team

This is why it is so important to have a Service Desk team for a robotic delivery company. As you may already know, it is common for any technological product to need improvements even after the first release, and the Service Desk team’s reports are an essential part of that process.

Here are some ways the service and support tasks provide crucial support for Kiwibot operations:

  • They guarantee safe and efficient robot delivery operations in the field (not only in a laboratory or in controlled environments).
  • They solve common and highly complex problems for external and internal clients.
  • They handle critical situations where rapid intervention is required to diagnose, escalate, and/or fix problems as they arise.
  • They provide helpful information to other areas of the company, to let them know what should be improved in the design, development or manufacturing processes.
  • They work as a bridge between the engineering and operations areas of the company.

In addition, the autonomous delivery robot is a product that will be massively scaled, which not only requires its manufacturing to grow but also all the logistics and operations that will transport, deploy and operate these robots. In order to have large numbers of robots in different locations and time zones at a concise time, a Service Desk team must be very well structured to support the entire operation.

The team in action

Let's be more specific. Imagine you are part of the engineering team in charge of creating the best autonomous delivery robot. Your team is interdisciplinary, made up of the best engineers, programmers, and designers, who must use the latest available technologies and conduct research, not only at the business level but also at the academic level in a highly competitive and demanding market.

Your team goes through all the stages of product design: receiving and analyzing the requirements of multiple stakeholders, conducting market research, presenting the concepts, selecting the best option, making the first prototypes, and fixing bugs along the way.

After months of hard work, the long-awaited day has arrived. Your team has created an incredible product, the future of last-mile delivery, and a new fleet of robots is ready to start operating in the field.

Everything seems to be going well until suddenly you receive an alert from one of the robots reporting a situation. As technical issues are common in all products, you have to interrupt your programming session to review them. “How did we let it pass? Hmm well, we’ll fix it with a hotfix”.

The situation described is very close to what we had experienced in Kiwibot before we had a Service Desk Team. So, we hired our first support engineer, then later expanded to an entire area with engineers dedicated to providing technical support to robots and all the software infrastructure behind their operation.

The problems we receive at the Service Desk Team are quite varied. We need to be ready if one of our robots gets disconnected from our cloud platform, diagnose which system is at fault for the robot not moving fluidly, or even identify why the customer can’t locate our robot on the map. Anything can happen, and we must be prepared to help our robots in any situation.

The challenges

There are several innate challenges in the Service Desk area as well, including having a completely remote team with asynchronous schedules, staying aware of the progress and new features in the technology of the products, having to provide useful information to all areas of the company, and the need to grow at the same pace as our fleet, in several new locations around the world. But at the end of the day, navigating these difficulties is worth it to be a part of building this exciting new industry.

After all, it is crucial to keep in mind that when scaling a highly complex product such as autonomous delivery robots, the need to have a support area in charge of dealing with all incidents that occur during their operation is essential. Therefore, this area must grow at the same rate as the operations.

If you want to be part of my team, you need to know that we are working with a highly complex system, so technical knowledge is required. Also, we work with the latest mechanical, electronic and programming technologies, so an engineering level formation is necessary. If you are looking for an entry-level opportunity and want to spend your days in the exciting world of technology, don't hesitate to join us and start your career in robotics at Kiwibot.

Camilo Pinzón