The French Tech at CES has been amazing who would have thought that we would have seen this type of advanced tech coming from there.
Craig had the opportunity to speak with Rodolphe Gelin the EVP and Chief Scientific Officer at Aldebaran a French Robotics company. They develop small humanoid robots – NAO and Pepper they even show emotions.
Catch more of Aldebaran below, and keep listening to Craig Peterson’s Tech Talk!
Rodolphe Gelin (1965) is an engineer from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (1988) and Masters of Science in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Paris VI (1988). He started his career at CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission), he has been working there for 10 years on mobile robots control for industrial applications and on rehabilitation robotics.
Then he had been in charge of different teams working on robotics, virtual reality, and cognitics. From 2006 to 2008, he was in charge of business development for Interactive System Program. He has participated to the European Coordinated Action CARE that supports the ETP EUROP on robotics in charge of the robotic roadmap for the European Community. In 2009, he joined Aldebaran Robotics as head of collaborative projects. He is the leader of the French project ROMEO that aims to develop a human size humanoid robot.
Since 2012, he is Research Director at Aldebaran Robotics. He is a member of the board of the directors of the euRobotics association.
He is the author of two books “Robot, ami ou ennemi?”, “Comment la réalité peut-elle être virtuelle ?”.
In 2005, Bruno Maisonnier founded Aldebaran. Five other enthusiasts quickly joined the adventure to create the “Aldebaran garage.” Aldebaran is the brightest star in the Taurus constellation, with a diameter 44 times greater than that of the sun. With Antares, Regulus, and Fomalhaut, it was one of the four royal stars of the Persian Empire (300 b.c.) and used for navigating at sea and in caravans.
A year later, the small team of twelve pioneers created the first NAO prototype. The objective was to sell it to the general public, but it was not quite ready. Nonetheless, customers were already interested in the small humanoid: researchers.
In 2008, NAO was selected as the successor to Sony AIBO in the standard RoboCup Soccer League. This university competition organizes robot soccer/football matches and has a challenge: have the winning human World Cup team play against humanoids in 2050!
Little by little, NAO is becoming a standard in the academic world for research and education.
In 2010, it had its first major success: twenty NAOs danced on the Pavillon de la France and Ile-de-France at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. NAO became the main attraction at pavilions visited by 10 million people.
Our robots continued to improve. December 2011 saw the arrival of NAO Next Gen, the latest version of NAO benefiting from major technological advances in interaction. The education market expanded to secondary school, and Aldebaran created the Developer Program whose objective is to encourage programmers to use the robot to create applications for the general public.
In 2013, Aldebaran launched the Autism Solution for Kids (ASK NAO) initiative, which offers a new teaching approach to teachers and children with autism thanks to robotics.
In June 2014, SoftBank Mobile and Aldebaran unveiled “Pepper” – the world’s first personal robot that reads emotions. Available in shops in Japan, Pepper welcomes, informs and entertains customers.
At the same time, Aldebaran launched the latest version of NAO, NAO Evolution (lien), a stronger robot and a more comprehensive operating system.
More than ever, all Aldebaran teams are passionately working to offer interactive humanoid robots that are scalable and affordable to help humans.
To date, nearly 400 Aldebaranians have contributed to the construction of our vision of the future with robots. More than 7,000 NAOs have already been sold around the world and Pepper is available in Japan.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing Date: May 7, 2016
Craig Peterson: We’re gonna right now about robotics and we’ve had Aldebaran here before. They’ve got some really cool stuff. The new Pepper robot. They’ve been involved in this business for quite some time. So we’re joined right now by Rodolphe, welcome.
Rodolphe Gelin: Thank you very much.
Craig: Aldebaran, it’s been over 5 years right?
Rodolphe: 10 years now.
Craig: Yeah, ok. That you’ve been in robotics?
Craig: You’ve had robots dancing in the stages and pavilions and presentations in France. Now, you’ve come even further. You’re shipping a number of different robots. A big one in Japan. Why don’t you tell us about Pepper and where you’re at right now over at Aldebaran.
Rodolphe: So, today at Aldebaran, we are about 400 people and we have manufactured plenty of robots, maybe 9,000 now, all over the world. And in 2012, Southbank Robotics, Southbank at that time weren’t on robotics but Southbank asked us to develop a robot for them and it was Pepper. So, in 2 years, we developed Pepper, 1 meter and 20 centimeter high. A robot, a humanoid robot with wheels and beautiful head, nice arms, and a tablet on the chest to welcome customers in their shops.
Craig: We’re seeing more and more of that in fact. I’ve noticed, very popular in Japan. They even have robotic receptionists. But the robot you guys are producing now are aimed at what? Is it some kind of a human assistant or what do you do?
Rodolphe: Yes. In the long term it will be a human assistant at home. That’s what we are focusing what we are targeting. But today it is an assistant, you know, in shops. It’s a welcoming robot and we have more of 300 of them in shops in Japan to welcome and to entertain people when they wait or when they want information in the Southbank shops
Craig: Now, when it comes again to robotics, artificial intelligence comes to the forefront where the robots can find their way around places, can learn as they are progressing. How close are we to having truly helpful robots that we can use in our homes? I know some already can help with certain people with disabilities.
Rodolphe: Yeah, we have… there are plenty of prototypes able to demonstrate such as really useful functions for elderly or disabled people. But from a, you know, industrial point of view, when do we have real robots ready to be sold for this assistance, we think that it’s about a couple of years. It will take that long. Today, already in Japan, we have a customer. People at home that have these Pepper robots, more than 7,000 in Japan already. But today we have to say that a robot is not really able to navigate in the apartment and manipulate things, but that’s what we’re working about on. And in our labs, Pepper already can learn rooms and can go from a room to another. And so that’s why I think within 2 or 5 years at maximum, we’ll have this service robot able to have these what we expect, robotic functions available.
Craig: Alright. People can find out more by going to Aldebaran.com. A-L-D-E-B-A-R-A-N.com/en for the English. And as we go forward here, are we gonna start seeing your robots in use more in the US as well? People can be able to buy them. It sounds like it’s kind of a business investment right now.
Rodolphe: Yes absolutely. And that’s why we are here in CES this year because it’s to inform that soon, Pepper will be available for business to business customers. And we won’t these robots and for developers because as you know, Pepper is a platform on which you can develop your own applications. So we need this community of developers growing to develop a specific application for the Pepper you have in your business or at home one day.
Craig: Very, very nice. I appreciate you being with us today. Best place online again, Aldebaran.com. A-L-D-E-B-A-R-A-N.com/en for Anglais.
Craig: Right. Thanks again.
Rodolphe: Thank you.