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Retail robotics innovation wins award

07 November 2023

AN INNOVATION designed by a Birmingham student that promises to revolutionise retail through robotics has won a national engineering award.

Dot Stores, designed by master’s student Rushikesh Bagul while at the University of Birmingham, uses autonomous robotics to create around-the-clock retail stores that can operate without human intervention. Bagul, 25, scooped the Pre-Show People’s Vote at the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions competition.

He said: “It's truly amazing to receive the People's Vote award at Engineers in Business, especially as a robotics startup. Many people tend to be apprehensive about robotics and AI startups. Despite these challenges, winning this award provides us with validation and the confidence to persevere in our mission.

“The inspiration stems from the need we experienced for the availability of medical supplies 24/7 in remote areas. In these regions, there are limited shops, and none operate during the night. In emergency situations, especially during night-time, there are no options for obtaining vital medical supplies in these remote areas and villages. We aimed to develop technology that enables stores to operate 24/7 without human involvement, ensuring essential supplies are accessible to customers round-the-clock.”

“By creating autonomous Dot Stores, we're bridging gaps in accessibility, ensuring everyone can obtain groceries and medications anytime, anywhere. This innovation democratises retail, making quality products available at supermarket prices, even in premium locations. Ultimately, our technology doesn't just transform businesses; it empowers communities, promoting accessibility, efficiency, and affordability, thereby significantly improving lives.

“We are grateful to the team for giving us this opportunity for networking and mentoring.”

Bagul pitched his idea against nine other teams of student innovators at the event at the Royal Academy of Engineering on Friday 3 November. He will also receive a CV package from PurpleCV and entrepreneurial books from Cambridge University Press and Double your Price, a book by David Falzani MBE, which covers how pricing works with practical insights, tools and actionable guidance.

The event, which was hosted by TV presenter and engineer Rob Bell, was the culmination of a year of enterprise competitions held across UK universities, with thousands of undergraduate and graduates taking part.

Each year, Engineers in Business Fellowship champions business education for engineers and supports universities by giving them grants to award prizes to engineering students who develop ideas that can make a positive impact on society.