He is 60 cm tall and weighs 7 kg. Equipped with three wheels, this “emotional companion” type robot called Buddy can move around without problem, with more than 8 hours of autonomy. The Boulanger brand has chosen him to welcome and inform customers in certain stores. In the north of France, he wanders around thirty nursing homes, serving the elderly in their daily lives. By videoconference, seniors can thus communicate with their loved ones.
The bulk of Buddy’s troops (1,850 units) have been using their wheels on the benches of primary schools since 2021. The robots allow sick or hospitalized children to follow lessons remotely. They were designed by Blue Frog Robotics, founded in 2014. They are manufactured in Beauvais. Frederic Louis, Head of Santech innovation in Lannion, hopes that in 2023, they can be designed in Brittany.
Through a tablet
A subsidiary of the Teamnet group (a company that publishes software for communities) since 2019 following a receivership, Santech innovation, which was called Alyacom before, brought its brick to the Buddy robot. “Alyacom’s expertise led Teamnet to delegate a project linked to the Ministry of National Education to us. It is called Ted-i: working together at a distance and in interaction”. Buddy was chosen to carry out this mission. Teamnet has shares in Blue Frog Robotics. The technical skills of Santech innovation were therefore, quite naturally, added to Buddy. “We brought what we call software integration and logistics. We also manage all product support.” At school, Buddy provides telepresence for absent students. Through a tablet, the child can take control. It is also a tool for autistic children, with applications developed by Santech innovation, in specialized establishments.
At what price ?
Buddy’s big brother is expected to arrive next year. He will grow and measure 90 cm. Frédéric Louis hopes it will go on sale to the general public in 2023. At what price? “Less than €2,000. Today, it costs much more,” replies the manager of Santec innovation. Buddy will be integrated, “in the very near future”, into a universe of connected objects, through the Healysa platform. It will communicate with different tools: a cat’s GPS tracker, a senior watch, a surveillance camera… “We’re interested in tech for good. It is technology for well-being”. It is also a gateway to home automation.
Santech innovation has ten employees in its ranks, including five in Lannion. Buddy is not his only activity. It has kept what made the success of Alyacom, created in 2009: a mobile remote management solution for personal service structures or home nursing care. She still has a hundred customers in this niche. This is the main part of his activity. “The team is getting stronger. I am recruiting. I would like there to be fifteen of us at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023. We are growing rapidly, ”concludes Frédéric Louis.