Author Archive

Autonomous agricultural Rhoban robot awarded special jury prize 2014

The Rhoban stakes planting autonomous robot, developped for the “Duvigneau pépinières“, was awarded the special jury prize at Vinitech 2014.

Vinitech is one of the major exhibition for wine machinism. It will held from 2 to 4th of December.


Rhoban and the Robocup on french TV

Robocup and the Rhoban team was mentionned on a french TV program. Thanks to Laurent Pierre Gilliard from AEC!

Acroban and Sigmaban at the IUT 40th birthday

Acroban and Sigmaban, our humanoïd robots were exposed Friday at the 40th birthday of the computing science department of the university of Bordeaux.

They was dancing, interacting, balancing and standing up as showed on the above video.

French Robots in Korea

Rhoban Project, in collaboration with Flowers team shows its robots in the French pavilion of the international expo 2012 of Yeosu, Korea. Every day from 2012.05.12 to 2012.08.12. Over this period, around 500 000 visitors are expected in the pavilion, 8 millions in the whole expo. Rhoban Project is a group mixing academic researchers, artists and others people interested in designing original robotic creatures. Have a look here.

The show presents the work of the project about humanoid robots. The main question that we explore is compliance / soft motor control. Indeed, usually a robot is controlled “in position”: this means that the angle of each joint of the robot is defined for any time; and at any time, each joint takes this angle whatever force/energy it needs and whatever obstacle it meets. The robot is stiff. By several aspects, this method has been proved to be very efficient in the industry world (precision, repeatability, power). However, it becomes less adapted when one wants to make robots go out of the context of factories. This is the case if we think to personal robotic, where the robot works at home among people, or interventions on a disaster site: the environment of the robot is not known in advance in these applications.

Acroban interacting with people

Acroban interacting with people

Taking that into account, we design soft robots, like animals, and like human in particular. This allows the robot to handle partially or completely unknown environments. Soft joints adapt by themselves their own positions in order to fit the environment and perturbations. In this way they look and construct by themselves unplanified stable states or trajectories for the robot – motor intelligence -. Thanks to compliance, animals enforce locomotion in an unequalled efficient and robust way!

Compliance/softness allows also the robot to learn from human. Indeed, the softness of joints allows physical interaction between the human and the robot. The user can manipulate directly the robot in order to show him new motions; and the robot, while performing some other things (like balance keeping for instance), can learn from people new motor behaviours. Thanks to compliance, its motor system remains “open” to its environment. Such interaction is also a privileged way to enforce collaborative tasks between humans and robots like typically transporting heavy charges.

Also, we designed an anthropomorphic arm of real size. It has 7 principal joints plus a hand with several degrees of freedom (4 to 12). Our design relies on low cost elements in order to fit cost constraints in view of large public deployment. This implies a low precision and a low power. For that, we use elastics and springs to reduce backlash and as energy accumulators.

We explore softness at different levels of robotic design:

Anthropomorphic Arm

Anthropomorphic Arm

– mechatronic control: how the motors must be controlled by electronic and software in order to give a soft behaviour to a joint.

– morphology. Morphology is crucial for many tasks, and especially locomotion. The motor behavior, and in particular the stability of the robot depends directly on its morphology. The morphology of our humanoid robots are highly inspired by the one of the human: it is particularly original for the vertebral column of Acroban which is designed according to physiology studies emphasizing the essential joints of the human vertebral column. Together with the pelvis, this allows very subtle motions close to human.

– mechanics. We explore the use of compliant materials (plastics, elastics, silicone, springs) in order to add natural flexibility to the robot, like does the cartilage for animals. We also design a linear free joint in the hip, controlled by a damper, which is new in humanoid robotics. This makes the robot semi-passive as this joint only reacts mechanically to environment without any specific control. Compliant and flexible mechanical elements absorb shocks, and also behave as energy accumulators.

In the expo, you will find:

  • The small humanoid robot SigmaBan (which usually plays soccer 🙂 ) doing tree swing while Acroban pushes him. This installation shows how our robots can interact physically thanks to soft control. Indeed, the arms and the spine of Acroban are compliant, which allows him to feel the swing and pushing it on time while keeping balance.
  • Then another Acroban performs some dances and sometime interacts with people, who can takes his hands and play with him.
  • Finally, the dance of Acroban is accompanied by a funny show performed by 5 pairs of real size anthropomorphic arms who seems to play rock music !… Each arm has 11 degres of freedom, including 4 articulated fingers. The arms reproduce the human morphology.
The concert

The concert

Among others media, the expo attracted attention from Korean media, see:

Robotic tracking eyes

Rhoban robotic drummer

After changing the drums to electronics one and putting all the controlling hardware into a pretty Antec Skeleton mini case, this is how our drummer looks :

Rhoban football club

Rhoban Football Club is an on-going robotic project whose team members are researchers at LaBRI, Bordeaux 1 University and CNRS . This project stems from the desire to better understand the problems arising from building a fully autonomous bipede capable of human-like motions, and to thoroughly study their solutions from an empirical and a theoretical point-of-view. In this context, several prototypes have been already built and tested, focussing on walking, locomotion, interactions, and proposing some new solutions in terms of robot mechanical structure (e.g. spine-oriented) and compliance. The idea of playing a dynamic game like soccer – a very interesting testbed for producing complex situations in a constrained environment – has driven the team to design a new robot with an improved structure, including video/image analysis and planning behaviour tactics, a necessary step forward to make the robot gain autonomy. This short paper gives an overview of this robot system in its current state, for the prospect of making it participate to Robocup 2012 .
Our participation to Robocup 2012 , up to the qualification procedure, would be the second one. The first one has been under the team name SigmaBan Football Club.

Rhoban Football Club is partner of the LaBRI, CNRS, Bordeaux 1 University, ENSEIRB-MATMECA and Région Aquitaine

Qualification To Robocup 2012

Our team is applying to the next Robocup in Mexico

Robot arms: it rocks !

This is part of our project for the Yeosu (Korea) world expo :

(The moves and move in the above video are not fully designed)

Acroban and friends

Acroban is a humanoid robot designed by Rhoban Project in collaboration with Flowers team.
Look at it here (featuring Pierre Ly, thanks to him !) :

With this platform, we investigate several questions:

  • What are the advantage of the vertebral column regarding locomotion ?
  • The use of compliance and semi-passive dynamics for biped locomotion.
  • How humans and robots can interact, physically ?

Learn more in this paper. See also Flower’s Acroban’s page to learn more.

Exploring robust, intuitive and emergent physical human-robot interaction with the humanoid robot Acroban
with Pierre-Yves Oudeyer and Pierre Rouanet.
To appear in 11th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoid’2011) – 2011 (Bled)

Maturational constraints for motor learning in high-dimensions: the case of biped walking
with Matthieu Lapeyre and Pierre-Yves Oudeyer.
To appear in 11th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoid’2011) – 2011 (Bled)

Bio-Inspired Vertebral Column, Compliance and Semi-Passive Dynamics in a Lightweight Humanoid Robot
with Matthieu Lapeyre and Pierre-Yves Oudeyer
To appear in proc. of IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS’2011) – 2011 (San Francisco) (also selected for IROS’2011 Special Demonstration Symposium)

Modeling Maturational Constrains for Learning Biped Humanoid Locomotion
with Matthieu Lapeyre and Pierre-Yves Oudeyer
To appear in Proc of Int. Conf. on Development and Learning (ICDL) – Poster session – IEEE 2011 (Frankfurt)

Acroban the Humanoid: Compliance for Stabilization and Human Interaction.
O. Ly and P.-Y. Oudeyer.
In IEEE/RSJ Int. Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS’2010) – Video Session (Taipei 2010).

Acroban the Humanoid: Playful and Compliant Physical Child-Robot Interaction.

O. Ly and P.-Y. Oudeyer.
In ACM SIGGRAPH’2010 Emerging Technologies (Los Angeles 2010)

Look also to the press release.


Rhoban is actually the first robot designed by the group.
This is a humanoid robot able to walk, get up, go upstairs … and even dance !
Look at him here. The robot has been designed from scratch, it is fully autonomous :