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Meet Reachy, the French robot the world looks set to see a lot more of

The award-winning tech from a Bordeaux company could potentially ‘work’ as a waiter or helping people with disabilities

Reachy can be customised and is cheaper than many competitors Pic: Pollen Robotics

Reachy, a robot made by a Bordeaux company, has won $2million at a prestigious US tech contest and is attracting buyers from different fields. 

Users can customise its appearance and uses. Its arms and head have a high degree of mobility, allowing it to perform many tasks and be appealingly expressive by moving its head and antennae. 

Judges at the ANA Avatar XPrize contest in Los Angeles fitted with virtual reality headsets had to put robots through a series of timed trials including lifting a screwdriver and using it to unscrew a door from its mount. 

Reachy did all the tasks but was beaten to a $10million first prize by a faster German competitor. 

Good value

However, it stands out for its good value. 

Reachy’s different configurations start at a kit with just a robotic arm at €10,000, to a torso kit with cameras and radio control, plus mobility, for €40,000. 

Until recently, most robotic arms started at €250,000. 

Elsa Kervella, business development manager for Reachy’s maker Pollen Robotics, said: “Our clients are mainly research institutions where students in robotics use Reachy, letting them see if their computer simulations work in practice.” 

Service industries are now showing interest. 

‘Interact with people’

“The systems are open source and designed for AI programmes, so it should be possible to have a robot which can interact with people and perform tasks, such as robot waiters which are more than the mobile tablet computer ordering systems you can see now. 

“Another potential use is having a robotic helper for disabled people which can fetch things for them.” 

The company is working on a follow-up to Reachy, which it hopes will be on sale in 2024. 

“It is an incredibly exciting field and moving very quickly and, as a company, we are happy to be one of the leaders in it,” Ms Kervella said.

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