French robotics

When people talk about robots they generally think about science-fiction movies like “Irobot” or “Terminator”. Eventhough we think that robots are only part of science-fiction culture but they are also real.

Currently Japan owns about half of the robots in the world and create technological advancements on assistive technologies.

A mid-size company from France has done the remarkable masterstroke of selling robots to Japanese. This firm is called  Aldebaran Robotics.

 French robotics

Aldebaran Robotics, a “french pépite”

The firm was founded in 2005 by Bruno Maisonnier, it’s a young and medium-sized company based in Paris and specialized in humanoid robots.

Its first creation was Nao built in 2006, 5000 items were sold in the world. It’s a 60 cm kind mate which can speak, hear, recognize you, walk, pick up, bring you some stuff, pick up itself.

This robot has mainly a social use: it is equipped with a program which allows interactions with autistics children and people affected by Alzheimer. It can also dance (and it’s pretty good).

Nao represents a big potential because it can be programed to make many tasks.

However the little white humanoid has a battery which duration is only 1h30 and a little size so it can’t lift heavy or big things.

Aldebaran has also created an assistance robot called Romeo.

With a height of 1,40m and 40 kg: it is reserved for helping people with a loss of independence like elderly or someone affected by a handicap.

Romeo can walk, see things in three dimensions, sit, lift things, open a gate. Ultimately, it should be able to substitute for a real home help, doing shopping, help to cook, remind the patient of taking his medical treatment, or worry about the person’s condition.

The last product of the French company is Pepper: designed for SoftBank Mobile (one of the most important japanese mobile telecom operator) this robot is made for living among humans. It goal is to communicate, to divert and to understand feelings by analysing the body language, words and facial expressions.

Pepper can be used to welcome and entertain shoppers. For example Nestlé has already ordered a thousand of these robots in this purpose.

A necessary support of the robotics sector in France

Aldebaran has been took over by Soft Bank during march 2012. Presently the Japanese firm owns 95% of Aldebaran’s shares thus resulting the leaving of company’s funder Bruno Maisonnier.

The “pépite” is not French anymore and didn’t seem to tempt French investors while the importance of the sector isn’t negligible and should represents 6,5 billions of dollars in 2017.

In march 2013 Arnaud  Montebourg announced a large robotic plane: “France robots initiatives” aimed for creating a robotics industry in the national industrial reconquest plan. 100 millions of euros will be provided in order to take off public-private collaborations and making France a leader of robotics in 2020 .

We hope that this public initiative will give results.

 

Thomas Bertrand

Etudiant en Master 2 Droit de l’économie numérique. Optimiste concernant les nouvelles technologies et attaché au droit du numérique.

 

 

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