Matthieu Lapeyre and Pierre Rouanet, the founders of two-year-old Bordeaux, France-based Pollen Robotics, are on a mission to build modular building blocks for consumer robots. The startup’s Reachy platform comprises a 7-degrees-of-freedom arm designed to fit tools at the end of its tip, including a hook, a gripper, and a five-finger hand. As for Reachy’s spherical head, it’s animated by Pollen’s proprietary Orbita, a ball joint actuator that supports dynamic and multi-directional movement with animated antennas that convey emotions (e.g., happiness, sadness, and excitement).
The head has two built-in cameras, one of which observes its environment. (The other focuses on the task of manipulating.) I/O connections including USB, HDMI, and Ethernet are accessible from the upper portion of its fabric-clad, vaguely humanlike torso, as are a microphone and speaker for voice interaction. There’s a system-on-chip under the hood powering it all — one with a Google-built Edge tensor processing unit (TPU) custom-designed for AI workloads.
Reachy’s bouncing antennae make it look vaguely insect-like, which is unfortunate because it’s a remarkable feat of engineering. Each arm has seven degrees of freedom, and its specialized neck joint allows its head to pan, twist and tilt in a surprisingly lifelike way.
Like MarsCat, Reachy is open source – you can use Python to create your own programs for it to run, and developer Pollen Robotics suggests it could be used for research and development, as a robotic receptionist, or as a helpful tour guide.
The full version of Reachy, with a head, body, and two arms, will cost around $17,000 (about £,13,000, AU$25,000), but a version with just a single arm is available for $9,000 (about £7,000, AU$13,000).
Those interested in splashing some cash can request to be added to the pre-order queue on the Pollen Robotics website //www.pollen-robotics.com and facebook //www.facebook.com/pollenrobotics ; those more interested in what’s going under under the hood can find the hardware and software designs on the company’s GitHub repository //github.com/pollen-robotics/reachy
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