The Urban Robotics Foundation (URF) was founded in 2021 as a global, membership-funded, non-profit organization that is bringing together stakeholders interested in public-area mobile robots (PMRs). Our goal is to help ensure that stakeholders understand the opportunities and challenges of PMRs and to build a global network of people focused on learning how PMRs can contribute to improved livability in urban ecosystems. Explore our Member Benefits
We focus on urban spaces and accessibility
Governments decide whether to reject or permit PMRs (when, where and for what purpose). Accessibility – spaces that are safe and workable for everyone – is the overarching goal. We present the landscape as complex and nuanced, sharing ways that barriers might be overcome. We encourage stakeholders to collaborate to share ideas and best practices.
Our credentials are unique
Bern Grush, Executive Director of URF, is the originator and project lead for the ISO draft technical standard 4448. His expertise fuels our deep understanding of the multiple overlapping city systems and stakeholders impacted by the deployment of PMRs.
Sponsorships are now available for URF's 2024 edition of the Municipal Guides to Public-area Mobile Robots.
We believe it is important to publish some initial guidance to help maximize the promised benefits of these technologies and to help stakeholders anticipate and minimize any unintended consequences during pilot testing and deployment.
For more details, please click here.
Please contact our Managing Director, Lee St. James to explore the sponsorship opportunities that are the best fit to support your organization's marketing and outreach goals!
Municipal Readiness Introductory Workshops
Municipal Readiness is one of the six foundation pillars for successful deployment of PMRs. Is your city or public facility ready for robots?
There is no fee to attend our 'open events'. We invite you to check the dates of our upcoming sessions and register for the next webinar that suits your schedule
If you work for a municipal government, airport, zoo, hospital or campus with public walkways this webinar is a great place to start. If you are a technology company or fleet operator, understanding the maturity stage and readiness of your prospective market is essential. Accessibility advocates are also an important part of the conversation. All are welcome.
Standards Review Zoom Meeting
URF hosts tri-annual Standards Review Meetings for members to discuss a particular part or parts of the ISO 4448 draft. There are 7 of 16 parts available now for review on our Member Resources portal.
Our next ISO member review meeting will take place on January 23, 2024 (10am ET). A video recording of the September 2023 Atlantic/Europe session is available on the member portal (we reviewed parts 14 and 15).
Please log in to the Member Resources section to view the latest documents and to provide your comments and suggestions at any time.
As a non-profit organization, we appreciate the early adopters and pioneers in the ecosystem who support our efforts to draft the new global standard (ISO-4448) by joining as members. Here are some of the companies, municipalities and accessibility groups who are active members of URF as of September 2023.
We welcome new members at any time, including individual researchers and subject-matter experts. Our annual membership fees start when you join and continue on a 12-month rolling basis. For more information on membership, please visit our Member Benefits page.
Where we are now with public-area mobile robots (PMRs) in 2023 is about where we were with the automobile in 1903 — very early days. It will take some time to establish the 'rules of the road'. Local governments and public facilities are struggling with the influx of technologies, numerous requests for pilot studies and concerns about safety, insurance, licensing and more.
Distilling relevant expertise
By opening the ISO 4448 draft standards to input from members, we bring a range of perspectives and broad expertise to the discussion. Although opinions may vary, alignment is always possible when the shared goals are safety, accessibility and improved liveability.
Collaborating and sharing best practices
We are hosting a series of workshops with members to co-develop the URF Municipal Guides to Public-area Mobile Robots. The first edition is scheduled for publication in January 2024 and will include an Executive Guide to PMRs, a Discovery Guide and a Project Guide for PMR Deployment. Sponsorships are available.
In addition to offering deployment / training workshops, URF is pleased to offer in-depth consulting and advisory services, led by Executive Director Bern Grush. Our consulting fees would typically be retainer-based. The scope of advisory projects related to PMRs can include topics such as:
RFP preparation / contract review
Project design (including use cases)
Please note, the following areas are out of scope for URF Advisory Services:
Equipment sales or resales
Day-to-day management of pilot projects
Bern Grush (Executive Director) is an author, researcher and consultant with expertise in the areas of mobility and automation and how innovative technology might be regulated, governed, socialized, and deployed. After completing a BSc in Human Factors Psychology (U of T), he earned his MSc in System Design Engineering, from the University of Waterloo.
Lee St. James
Lee St. James (Managing Director) is passionate to explore how social robots can help reduce social isolation and slow cognitive decline among older adults. This passion and her years of experience in consulting, technology marketing, and digital transformation contribute tremendous value to our membership and communications priorities.
Lee Haber (Engineering Director) loves transportation and cities. With degrees in civil engineering and urban planning, he puts these loves and skills to work at URF as a key drafter of the ISO 4448 standard. His frequent travels in the world’s great cities bring him continuous
insights into pedestrian infrastructure.
Andy Manahan (Board Member) has over two decades of experience in the development and construction. He brings an extensive network and a deep understanding of regulatory reform,
government procurement and infrastructure investment solutions.
Michael Roschlau (Board Member) is a strategic adviser in public transit and urban mobility. Dedicated to efficient and effective public transit, he most recently as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA).
Edona Vila (Board Member) is a Partner with BLG, Canada’s largest national law firm. Her product litigation and regulatory practice is focused on the liability of emerging classes of regulated connected products including Automated Vehicles and Internet of Things.