TTWCP-838-02 Cutting Edge Devices, Bruno Maisonnier of Aldebaran: Bruno Maisonnier, Founder and CEO of Aldebaran

On This Episode…

www.aldebaran.com/en

Graduated from “Polytechnique and Telecom Paris”, his career was built upon two main sectors: informatics and banking. He worked for ten years in IT consulting and in banks, where he carried out multi-partners projects, then successfully became the CEO of financial enterprises in several countries. Fascinated by robotics, he has been closely following this market and its evolutions for 25 years.

In 2005 he decided to leave the banking sector to take part into an uncommon adventure: the creation of a humanoid robot. That was the beginning of Aldebaran Robotics, a start up that brought together a few engineers and PhDs. In 8 years, Bruno Maisonnier’s incredible enterprise became a solid society, in which more than 300 people are currently employed. His robot, NAO, is commercialised all over the world, in the most prestigious universities as a research platform (Carnegie Mellon, Berlin University, Stanford, Tokyo University, Harvard…).

In the future, Aldebaran Robotics’ ambition would be to develop humanoid robots at the service of a broader audience.

Aldebaran Robotics’ vision: Robots for better living

 

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TRANSCRIPT

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.

 

Bruno Maisonnier – Aldebaran

Airing Date: October 31, 2015

 

Craig Peterson: We’re gonna talk a little bit about robots right now and some specific ones with the CEO and founder of a company called Aldebaran. His name is Bruno Maisonnier. Hello, welcome.

Bruno Maisonnier: Hello. Thank you so much for your interest.

Craig: Now, let’s talk about the robots. Let’s talk about what you’re doing. You’re from the south of France?

Bruno: Yeah.

Craig: From Lyons. And before we went on the air, I got to practice my French a little bit. It was kinda fun. But what are you guys doing? You don’t see a lot of robotic technology come out of France. Do you? Or where… Is there?

Bruno: Yeah, there is a lot of technology, robotics technology. You know, we entered 30 years ago…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: In the world of robots, thanks to Star Wars and all the Hollywood movies.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: But, but you cannot see robots anywhere.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: Because it’s too complicated. Very difficult.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So all of those people tried but it’s not the proper time.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And people are thinking that the country of robots is Japan.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: So when you want to know about robots they’re going to Japan.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And there, they don’t see any robot.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: You have some prototypes. Some research from advanced prototype robots. But they’re worth 1 million dollars. There are 5 around the world.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: And in Japan you can find stores…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Where people who will tell them. But if you want robots you have to go to France.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: So the real country of robots is France.

Craig: OK.

Bruno: Because robotics is a mixture of different skills.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: From concept, algorithm.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Software, high level mechatronics. These kind of things.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Which is fitting a [??] with fresh spirit.   

Craig: Right.

Bruno: So today, Aldebaran is the world leader of robotics.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: In one specific area robots helping people.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Is what we want to do.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: But helping people on what is the most valuable things.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: In my view which is companionship.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: Fighting loneliness. Fighting, fighting sadness.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: I want robots to, to give fun. To give…

Craig: Uh huh.                               

Bruno: To help people growing.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: When someone is with a robot.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: I want to just…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: With the people and with the robot.

Craig: Right.            

Bruno: So those are the robot we are doing.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So the companion. The buddy. We have 3 of them. One is 60 centimeter tall.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Some kind of table robot. Helping autistic kids or for education.  

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Then we have 1.2 meter robot.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Tall. Already sold in Japan.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: We have sold 10,000 of them.

Craig: In Japan, where people think robotics come from.

Bruno: Exactly.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: So, Japanese people are interested in robotics, but buying French robots?

Craig: Right.

Bruno: Absolutely, right? And then…

Craig: Uh huh. And then…

Bruno: And then we have a third one, which is 1.4 meter.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Much larger. Very strong.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Able to help someone who fall down to stand up again.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So very strong then we have problems of their safety

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So we are working with research labs.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: To help improving this question of safety.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And then it will be product to consumer market later on.

Craig: Sure. Yeah, if it’s strong enough to help you get off the floor, there might be issues, right?

Bruno: Exactly.

Craig: Yeah. Some of the problems. So these are… are… are humanoid robots?

Bruno: Yes.

Craig:  Do they kinda look like and act like people?

Bruno: Yes. If it’s up to me, after different testing is. The first one: Robots have to be cute.

Craig: Uh huh. Kinda like us.

Bruno: Yeah, exactly. Like you more than me. But it has to be cute in their shape, in their look, in their movements.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: In their behaviors. Cute because I don’t want to have products just for the geeks or engineers.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: I want my old mother to have a robot at home and to accept. So the robot have to be accepted. Acceptability is a pretty fundamental.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So they have to be cute.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: In the behaviors, as well as look, as well as movement.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And, they have to be perfectly natural. Intuitive to interact with.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: I don’t want my mother to read a 200 pages book to understand how this stuff is working.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: So, she has to interact absolutely naturally meaning with her body language. Understanding with her guts.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So the robot has to understand your, your eyes. You’re giving me signals that you understand.

Craig: Oh it’s true.

Bruno: Or you’re OK or you’re not OK.

Craig: Right.

 

Bruno: So this is very important. Emotions.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: If you are… if someone is telling the robot yes…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Meaning no.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Or saying yes very, very joyful or saying yes but scared…

Craig: Ah…

Bruno: It’s a different message.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: So the robot has to understand that if you want the robot to react properly.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So meaning understand the body language, the voice, and the… and all the emotions that are expressed by your tonality of your voice, by your face, by all that.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So first, they have to be cute to be acceptable.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Second, they have to be totally natural to interact with.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And third, they have to be connected.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And then you can bring everything from monitoring, coaching, silver economy, education to our robots. For instance, I used to help teaching to autistic kids.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: To have them growing. They are used in some hospices where is a old person…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: You know just spending the day alone.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: You have 20 people in the room. Everyone is sitting without saying anything, without moving. All that is very, very sad.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: And then when you put some kind of our robots.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: They are playing, they are dancing, they are making, and everyone is laughing and coming back. It would be the same probably…

Craig: Wow.

Bruno: With children or with, with, with pets.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: But this robots is working too.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So they are bringing fun, happiness and connection.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: That’s what we are doing.

Craig: Right. Now science, technology, engineering, mathematics, long time, this has been a soapbox issue of mine. Because I think that’s the only way you can really advance, right? You can either make things, flip hamburgers, or be involved in science, right?

Bruno: Absolutely.

Craig: Now, are you… are… what kind of opportunities are you providing with these robots and maybe on the stem side?

Bruno: Very great. Today, we have 3 activities. Let’s say.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: One is for education.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: I love President Obama.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Who said that each and every children…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Because the future is a digital world…

Craig: Right.

Bruno: Has to learn how to program.

Craig: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Bruno: As if it was a foreign language.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And he’s perfectly right.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So now in the United States, a lot of schools…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: K12, or a lot of schools.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Who wants to have tools.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: To… to… to have peop… children engaged…

Craig: Right.

Bruno: Very involved, interested in programming, in learning how to program.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Our robot are perfect for that.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So, so we are selling a lot of these robots…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And now robots in the United States for that.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: As well as for special occasion.

Craig: And so you have programming, programming kits, software…

Bruno: Exactly.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: We have a fantastic [??]…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: But we have uh, programming tools.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Graphicals, so everyone, you, me, your wife, everyone.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: In ten minutes…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Is able to make your robot doing something.

Craig: Right, right.

Bruno: So in 10 minutes, you are attracted, then you want to go further on.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So then can learn script languages.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So it will be 2 or 3 hours to do something more faster, more important. But…

Craig: Right.

Bruno: And after that you go for C++ or other languages.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So it’s a really a good way to involve children into programming.

Craig: I absolutely love it. And of course now, you’re more of a platform in that kind of environment because it can be expanded, extended to different things.

Bruno: Absolutely. The other piece I wanted to speak about…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: With our robot we have an application store.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Where you can download applications so that means we need to have a lot of people, companies, or developers.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Developing applications.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: We have, so it’s not that much, that many today…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: We have something they have heard of.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: But it’s already the beginning.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: So that developing applications uploading them on our app store.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And if you have a robot, you can download that.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And improve your robot or having your robot playing new games with you or teaching you languages or…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: You know all these question, coaching people.

Craig: Right, right.

Bruno: Our robot for me, much more like Jiminy Cricket. Your personal coach. Or you know…

Craig: Right, right.

Bruno: Or your personal butler, taking the control of your smart home.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So interface with your smart home, but really here to help you.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: This is what our robots are.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: I’m used to say when you have a robot with someone.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: One of our robot with someone. The star is not the robot…

Craig: Right.

Bruno: The person.

Craig: Right.

Bruno: The robot has to have that in mind or in his programs.

Craig: Right. Alright. Well, hopefully when they get some video we’ll include that in the video broadcast here too.

Bruno: Perfect.

Craig: Now, if people want to find out more, I guess Aldebaran.com is the best place?

Bruno: Absolutely.

Craig: Which is A-L-D-E-B-A-R-A-N. English pronunciation would be Aldebaran.com/en.

Bruno: Perfect.

Craig: Best place alright for the English site.

Bruno: Yeah. Absolutely.

Craig: And are these available in general retail or just on the website? How is this coming out?

Bruno: As of today, as of today we are selling to academies, we are selling to developers.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Because we don’t have yet the… the FCC approval.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Or the CE approval.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: So it’s for developers.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: But we are getting that very soon.

Craig: Right.                                                                                                                            

Bruno: So we will sell Pepper…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: To general public, to everyone…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: In Japan…

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: Right in 2 months’ time…

Craig: Right.

Bruno: We will sell now to everyone, B to C, this year in Europe.

Craig: Uh huh.

Bruno: And after that we will have the two robots in the United States.

Craig: In the U.S., alright.

Bruno: So it’s coming.

Craig: Bruno, fantastic. Thanks for being with us today.

Bruno: Thank you for your interest. I really appreciate. Thank you so much.

Craig: Take care.

 

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