The U.K’s Channel 4/AMC science fiction series Humans depicts a world in which humanoid robots (known as Synths) can perform a range of household tasks, such as running errands and doing laundry. Synths can also help in the kitchen and care for the young and the elderly.
Interestingly, the Humans original 2012 Swedish version, Real Humans, attracted a large French audience, and there may be good reasons for that.
France has as many 150,000 people working in the robotics industry. In 2015, the country was the world’s fifth-largest robot exporter, ahead of the U.S. and China. As the rate of automation increases, French firms are working to lay down a promising foundation for emotionally intelligent humanoid robots that are efficient and cost-effective.
Buddy originates from the French headquarters of Blue Frog Robotics and claims to be the world’s first companion robot.
Buddy moves on his three feet (wheels), weighs around 5kg, and has a battery that lasts from 8 to 10 hours. He also has a plethora of sensors that allow him to travel, learn, and even interact with the world around him. Buddy also has the ability to protect family members. Users can operate Buddy through a remote control, but he is also equipped with real-time mapping navigation and has autonomous collision and obstacle avoidance so he can move on his own.
Buddy is pitched as a “revolutionary companion robot.” Users can deploy him for home security, elderly care, social interaction, and even kitchen help. A list of Buddies’ capabilities can be found by downloading applications and new accessories.
Buddy’s creators say he is “democratizing robotics” by offering an open-source technology platform whereby the global community of developers can build applications and accessories.
Keylo comes in five different colors and offers various solutions for retailers and facility managers.
Wyca designed this telepresence robot to move autonomously and maneuver smoothly on uneven ground. The bot’s platform suspensions were designed to cross door thresholds, allowing it to easily enter an elevator without human assistance. Keylo’s wide range of services can help increase workplace efficiency.
As a service bot, Keylo can serve clients in multiple sites from a single space. Clients can combine their website and physical store using Keylo and can use the camera to capture transactions. Keylo also acts as a nurse’s assistant for outpatients surgery units. This allows medical staff to focus on matters requiring immediate attention and lightens their workload. Keylo’s offerings include enhancing the collection of patient consent, providing improved contact with medical staff, lowering the risk of contamination, and guaranteeing safety with reduced maintenance.
Keylo also offers assistance in self-storage facilities and can even help rent units remotely. The bot operates from anywhere (even your office) and can check the cleanliness of corridors and units. A single employee using Keylo can manage up to five self-storage units at one time, which reduces the cost of staffing. The bot has a security system that offers an immediate response to any unknown intervention.
Like Buddy, Keylo has an open and scalable platform that facilitates improved research. Wyca provides full control of technology from the cloud and integrates into CRMs through the SaaS platform. Users can easily customize, replace, and add Keylo’s components independently from Wyca.
PRESENCE+home and SAM
RoboCARE Lab aims to create innovative solutions that allow the elderly to live better and can relieve caregiver stress. The company designed PRESENCE+home to extend support to the dependent and the elderly, allowing them to socially bond with the robot. It has a simple interface that facilitates virtual visits, as users control the bot remotely. The lab hopes this bot will simultaneously connect with users and relieve caregivers from exhaustion. PRESENCE+home relies on robotics and IoT and covers a full range of teleporting services. While it offers these services, it is the telepresence robot, SAM, that forms the connection between users, as it has a screen and wheels, allowing it to conveniently move around.
The use of PRESENCE+home and SAM is not limited to elderly care.
Similar platforms that assist activities on campuses and in museums have joined PRESENCE+home. PRESENCE+Museum ensures everyone has access to art and culture. For museums, exhibition halls, and municipalities, this innovative service transports people, especially those with reduced mobility, into a museum or cultural exhibition. PRESENCE+Campus, another telepresence service, is an eco-citizen initiative that allows SAM to create bonds between students, teachers, and jury members around the world.
SAM is currently only available in the French market, and his younger brother, SAMY, is scheduled to arrive in 2018. PRESENCE+home will be available starting January 2018.
France’s booming bot market will only continue to produce more useful and human-like robot helpers in the future. As creators continue to grow and innovate within this space, it will be interesting to see how close we are to bringing to life the sci-fi worlds depicted in shows like Humans.
Deena Zaidi is a Seattle-based contributor for financial websites like TheStreet, Seeking Alpha, Truthout, Economy Watch, and icrunchdata.