Kompaï robotics gets FABULOS in EU Horizon 2020 automated minibus competition

France’s Kompaï robotics, which Editor Steve first profiled in May 2011 (!), is still developing assistive robots for older adults, the disabled, and their caregivers. In another instance of technology integration and crossover into an area other than healthcare, they are a finalist in one of 5 consortia of 16 companies competing in the European FABULOS challenge to develop an automated minibus. Kompaï is partnering with Actia Automobile as the Kompai-Actia Consortium. Phase 1 of FABULOS starts 1 January with a feasibility study with conclusions for the start of prototype development. In autumn, the consortia will move to lab testing prototypes with real-world testing of the final three starting March 2020 in Estonia, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. The R&D is being financed by the European Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme with a total fund of over €5,5 million. FABULOS release.

Robots, robots at CES: ElliQ, Sophia the ‘humanoid’, companions, pets, butlers, maids…and at a supermarket near you?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Overrun-by-Robots1-183×108.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]CES as usual was a Robot Showcase, though without the presence of our recent Spotlight Robot Kompaï.  One of our other Spotlighters, Intuition Robotics‘ ElliQ companion robot, won the CES Best of Innovation Award in the Smart Home category (release).

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/sophia-header.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Much press went to Hanson Robotics’ Sophia, a Frubber-skinned humanoid robot from Hong Kong. It (She?) sees through cameras and sensors, through them recognizes speech and facial expressions, responds through natural language processing, and has a motion control system. It started walking on its own at CES courtesy of DRC-HUBO-developed legs. Its creator David Hanson, backed by Disney (Animatronics!) looks forward to an adult-level of general intelligence via AI development for future uses such as customer service, caring for children or older adults, or therapy. It has the ‘uncanny valley’ problem of verging on lifelike. The BBC interviewed Sophia at CES. (No, they didn’t sign her to be a presenter.) SFGate. The AI crowd in Silicon Valley and Facebook’s AI head with the interesting name of Yann LeCun performed a Two-Minute Hate about her to a rather partisan writer in The Verge. (Not Invented Here Syndrome? Perhaps they’re just envious.)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/aibo.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Most of CES’ robots were a Parade of Cute and When Not Cute, Wistful. Or Not Working. Sony’s brought back the Aibo robot dog out of its 2006 retirement with the ERS 1000, which lacks only a non-shed coat to be puppy-like. According to the WSJ, $1,700 will make Aibo your companion–and it doesn’t need food or walking. Blue Frog Robotics’ Buddy is a family companion, control point for connected homes, and security monitor. You might trip over it and the $1,500 cost. More in the utility line is Ubtech Robotics’ Walker which, unlike the Walker of ‘Point Blank’, isn’t looking for his $93,000 but will walk point around your house for security, connect you to your home controls, and ‘butler’ your appointments, emails, and video calls. The maid’s duties will be done by the Aeolus Robot, which will sweep, pick up and put away your things, and also do some assistant work. Honda’s 3E robots are Transformer-like for more commercial duties like assistants, smart scooters, and carriers. A more here-and-now robot addressing a major need is another robotic glove for those with hand or mobility restrictions, the leather glove-like NeoMano.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Pepper-faints.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Not every robot was on their best behavior. Going on the fritz were LG’s CLOi smart home controller–on stage, no less. YYD’s latest robot, not only a home assistant but also a health status/chronic disease monitor, died into screen code in front of a BBC reporter. One of Softbank’s Pepper robots (left) was so overwhelmed by the excitement of CES that it fainted. Perhaps time to return to the calm of the Ostend, Belgium hospital? [TTA 21 June 16] Wired UK, South China Morning Post, CNet

Back in the Real World. Welcomed into Scottish supermarket chain Margiotta was ‘ShopBot’, dubbed Fabio. In an experiment run by Heriot-Watt University for the BBC’s Six Robots & Us (UK viewers only), Fabio was programmed with directions to hundreds of items in the store. It had an abundance of cute. Customers initially liked Fabio. Unfortunately, its conversational quality and conveyance of information were sorely lacking. For instance, Fabio told customers to go to the ‘alcohol section’ when they wanted beer. (Now if they wanted Scotch….) On top of it, its mobility was limited, and the disability laws don’t apply. So the Margiottas sacked Fabio, with regrets but no severance, after one week on the job. Oh. Telegraph (paywalled), Yahoo News UK

Toyota’s $14 million bet on Intuition Robotics’ social companion robot (JP/IL/US)

Social companion robots for older adults and the disabled are hot again. Tel Aviv and now San Francisco-based Intuition Robotics is enjoying a $14 million second Series A investment from Toyota Research Institute (TRI) for the ElliQ ‘active aging companion’. The ElliQ desktop robot is tethered to a proprietary tablet to connect an older adult with the outside world via video chat, using machine learning about the person to recommend activities, and assist with appointments, medication reminders, music, wellness, and environmental monitoring. ElliQ is still in pre-release. The $14 million is being put to immediate use in initial testing with users in the Bay Area, and Intuition is ramping up with a team there. 

TRI is based in Los Altos CA and is wholly owned by Toyota North America. Earlier seed and Series A investments totaling $8 million were made by iRobot, Terra Venture Partners, Bloomberg Beta and ManivMobility. This is the second older adult-targeted robotics news in as many weeks, with the more fully-featured and ‘humanoid’ KOMPAÏ in France going the crowdfunding route (as Intuition did early on) for €250,000 to fund the next generation [TTA 5 July]. After viewing the video below, it seems to this Editor that a lot of the interactive voice command technology has been overtaken by assistants already in market like Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. TechCrunch, Home Health Care News

 

KOMPAÏ seeks €250,000 to develop next gen assistive robot (FR/EU)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Kompai-photo017B-low.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]KOMPAÏ, which has been developing assistive robots under that name for older and frail people with their caregivers since 2009 (Founder Steve saw the KOMPAÏ-1 in 2011), has spun off as an independent company after acquiring the IP from the developer ROBOSOFT. They are marketing the current KOMPAÏ-2 (see left) which has been on the market since early 2016 [TTA 24 Sept 15]. KOMPAÏ CEO and founder Vincent Dupourqué announced in their press release they are seeking €250,000 to fund the development of the KOMPAÏ-3 as a scalable physical and cognitive assistive robot, primarily for the assisted living/nursing home market. The new iteration will include improvements from technologies which were unavailable or unaffordable only two to three years ago: cloud computing, artificial intelligence, conversational agents, and affective computing. The KOMPAÏ-2 had a ‘face’ which was far more ‘reactive’ than the original and an overall friendlier look, and that would be expected to continue with improvements in the last area.

The KOMPAÏ company and funding is profiled on the European crowdfunding site Hoolders. Investors can join them for as little as €250. They are located on the Basque Coast of France in Bidart in the Izarbel Technopole (la Technopole d’ Izarbel). Website and KOMPAÏ-2 product flyer (English) Hat tip to Founder Steve Hards

ROBOSOFT’s Kompaï-2 assistive robot debuts, wins award (FR)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/steve-kompai-19may11.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /] [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Kompai.png” thumb_width=”200″ /]It’s a far cry from May 2011, when Founder Steve visited with the early version of the French Kompaï assistive robot for what is delicately termed ‘frail people’ (left). Kompaï-2 (second left), still with the tablet in the front, appears a bit taller and has acquired a backpack basket (for wine, a baguette, Le Matin), a rotating torso, laser autonomous navigation, a 3D camera, facial expressions and a new color. Other new features include physical assistance features plus the ability to assist with position changes, walking and medications to reduce caregiver workload. (more…)

Perhaps the cutest robot to date

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/20140715211029-Read_Important_Messages.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Responsive and fitting into the home for multiple ages works. Cute makes it a ‘want to buy’. JIBO may not be the first operative ‘family robot’ (the EU/UK MOBISERVE/Kompaï companion robot [TTA 23 Aug 2013] likely was), it’s not child-sized like the ‘Robot’ of ‘Robot and Frank’ nor the mini-me of ‘Jimmy the Humanoid Robot’, but it’s got the Cute Factor in abundance. It’s a robot designed along the lines of ‘social robotics’ that doesn’t try to look humanoid. It stands at a non-threatening 12 inches high, suitable for tables or desktop. It’s white topped by a large orb serving as a screen that plays videos, reminders and teleconferences. It also speaks. But the big difference is that it responds to touch–dramatically. JIBO moves like a dancer and its ‘face’ follows you. Its response is framed in a companionate way and it’s not a toy–it also does practical things like deliver messages and two-way conversation. It’s easy to think of this not only as a natural companion and connector for various ages in a home, but also where someone lives alone.  The development team headed by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is delivering this at an attractive price point–$499 for a December 2015 delivery. It’s flown past its $100,000 Indiegogo goal (currently past $500,000) which is a gauge of its appeal. Can you, our Reader, imagine this in your home? Glowing article in Mashable, YouTube video), an grumpy review in Time (which maintains that wearables and smartphones are far more practical. No, it’s not The Gimlet Eye freelancing!)

Your Friday ‘robot fix’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/69521326_tpstrandscloseup.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]EU Robotics Week last week had over 300 separate events all over the region (including Macedonia and Malta!) to popularize robotics to the general public and to stimulate education in the STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math). eHealthNews picked five EU-funded projects as ‘cool’ across several assistive technologies: RoboHow (learning tasks from instructions or human example); the RADHAR intelligent wheelchair; Stiff-Flop (a surgical robot ‘arm’ modeled after an elephant trunk; ROBOFOOT (for use in footwear manufacture); and the STRANDS robot project which is being used during a challenge to patrol a populated environment. STRANDS robots (left) are designed to have cognitive/learning ability and are being tested on site, according to the article, in a care home for the elderly in Austria (assisting human carers), and in an office environment patrolled by a security firm in the UK (BBC News England 28 August). These all seem to be variations on AT themes, and we note that eHealthNews didn’t choose any clinical/telepresence ‘bots, but one wonders what happened to the MOBISERVE/Kompaï companion robot [TTA 23 Aug].

An update on the MOBISERV Kompaï project takes some flak

A long (and in need of editing), anodyne article on the European tech website Cordis updating the status of the EU/UK robotics project known as MOBISERV and the Kompaï companion robot, has generated a bit of controversy in the mHealth LinkedIn group (membership required). Group manager David Doherty, better known for his mHealthInsight (3GDoctor) website, objects to the design, the time and funds spent on it, and more. To summarize his points:

  • It’s a waste of money on a device and R&D which could have been used on more targeted solutions to real problems
  • A ‘touch screen robo-vehicle’ may not be usable by an older person who has trouble with smartphones or tablets for cognitive or mobility reasons
  • Mobile and other companies are already surpassing the EU project in both innovation and R&D in the job to be done; example Samsung’s gesture control and the LiquidWeb Brain Control brain interface from Italy. (And the ever-popular speech recognition in the here-and-now)
  • It’s a closed system versus open innovation, where other developers especially those on Kickstarter build in access (SDK–software development kits). Example is Romo, the small wheeled desk robot for the iPhone. (However, Editor Steve in his coverage of Kompaï in early days reported that its SDK is open source TTA 4 May 10)

We will leave side-taking to our readers, but David’s points are strongly worth considering, as this project has taken at least four years and perhaps more, and funding–who knows? (Editor Donna notes that Editor Steve followed Kompaï since 2010 in articles such as Kompaï by Kompaï, the Dutch TV video, and experiments in gesture-based control for those with strokes and similar impairments.)