Bossa Nova Robotics


June 11, 2019

A Day in the Life of Ashley Sturman, UK Robot Operator

Here at Bossa Nova, we’re all about celebrating the brilliant individuals behind our solution. This April, we launched our #5Questions series to profile the people that make our organization great. Check out our latest installment with Amy Han, VP of Hardware Engineering, here.

Now we’re pleased to share our newest series, A Day in the Life, where we take a behind-the-scenes look at a typical day in some of Bossa Nova's most critical roles. First up is Ashley Sturman, a Robot Operator based in Sheffield, UK. From monitoring vital mapping procedures to observing valuable Human-Robot interactions, Ashley plays an integral role in delivering stand-out service to our customers.


Hi everyone! I'm Ashley - an avid video gamer, a hike enthusiast, and a former Animal Technician turned Bossa Nova Robot Operator. There's never a dull moment when I'm in the field, and I'm thrilled to share a typical day in my life!

5 AM - Wake Up Time!

This is simply the time when my cat, Blue wants me to get started, and he kindly lets me know by constantly meowing. My morning routine starts with a substantial breakfast for a busy day ahead and a review of news on Twitter.

6 AM - Preparing the Robot

I head to the supermarket where I am greeted by the smell of fresh bread and warm welcomes from the store team. Today, we’re collecting data in a supermarket before we run a proof of concept. We use this data to teach our deep learning algorithms to detect and recognise everything on the shelf, from the structure of the fixture, to the individual product facings and price labels.

I check in with our operators in the US and then physically check on Bob. Bob is the name the staff gave the robot to make him part of the team! I double check the lidars, cameras, and lights are all clean to ensure our data captures are fully optimised. My role as an operator is to be there during data collection to ensure our software is running smoothly and is capturing all the juicy information we need.

If there are any hardware fixes to be made, I contact Ben, our UK Robot Technician, to fix the bot in the workshop. Today, it's in great shape.

7 AM - Time to Scan

Once all is ready to go, we get the green light to take the robot off charge and tele-op to its Home location where it begins its mission. That’s when the fun begins! I've found my video game skills come in handy as I drive the robot through fast moving obstacles and tight spaces. When we’re running daily missions, our clever robots will self dock and run the missions unchaperoned. However, in this learning phase, we like to be in store to ensure our ground truth is finely tuned.

Once I've got the robot in place, it will autonomously navigate to the first aisle and the lights will illuminate to capture the panos. Aisle successes, and any obstacles, will be logged for feedback.

11 AM - Mission Complete

During our missions, it's great to see how interested people are, asking questions like “Can this mow my lawn?” or “Where are the peas?”. We get a wide range of curious and funny comments. My favourite has to be when a little girl pointed at the robot, giggled and said "look, mummy, it's magical!”

When the full mission is complete, the robot will autonomously return Home to charge. The data it collected will be offloaded and stored for the data team to analyze. This wraps up the robot run!

12 PM - Return to the Office

It's time to head back to the office to fill out a report on the day’s mission.

As the morning mission comes to a close, I start to focus on another key part of my role - mapping. We map the store's current structural layout with regards to aisles, shippers, walls, building support structures and doors, etc. This map builds the core navigation for the robot follows to successfully autonomously navigate around the store to scan its assigned aisles using lidar technology, which produces a frequency map of the shelf, floor, and surrounding area.

As in most business, training documents and process maps are a must, so today I’m making sure that all the magic happening at Bossa Nova is well documented!

2:30 PM - Time to Head Home

After an early start, us robot operators can leave the office early afternoon after a hard day’s work. Time to go home and feed Blue!

Building sophisticated robots is tough. Delivering real-time data at that allows in-store employees to increase stock availability is even tougher. Doing all of this at scale, in world-class retailers, is what we do here at Bossa Nova. Learn more at: