All about Romeo – Nao’s big brother robot

This entry was posted in Robotics news on by Vanessa Mazzari.

1.4 metres tall, weighing 36 kg, capable of recognising faces, walking and grasping objects – please meet Romeo, the Nao robot’s cousin!
The Romeo robot was unveiled in a world exclusive at the Innorobo 2014 event , in which Génération Robots has participated since 2011. For the moment it is still only a research prototype .

The Romeo project

The aim of the Romeo project, launched in 2009, was to create a research platform suitable for testing possible service uses that could be included in future robot companions, specialised in supporting elderly or disabled persons .

This is a far-reaching project, and Aldebaran has been working in co-ordination with more than a dozen academic and industrial partners , including INRIA (Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique), the ISIR (Institut des systèmes intelligents et de robotique) and the LAAS-CNRS .

Four European laboratories have already acquired Romeo robots – and that’s certainly just the beginning!

By 2060, the over-65s are going to represent 17% of the population, and the European Commission has estimated the service robotics market for 2025 at €100 billion.
So support for the elderly is a major concern , one that robotics will need to address in the next few years .

The Aldebaran team, which designed the NAO programmable humanoid robot and Pepper, is therefore currently preparing Romeo to become the perfect companion robot , particularly for people with reduced autonomy (elderly or disabled persons).

What is Romeo going to be capable of?

Romeo could be seen as the logical next step on from the Nao robot, which was already capable of getting around on its own under real conditions, interacting with its environment and communicating with humans.

Taller than the Pepper and Nao robots, Romeo really has been designed with assisting people in their daily lives in mind, and would in the long term be able to carry out actions such as opening a door or picking up objects from a table .

Fitted with two cameras in its eyebrows allowing it to measure distances, Romeo is equipped with four computers to manage its sight, hearing, movements and artificial intelligence. Romeo incorporates a mass of innovations required for its future role as a personal assistant.

The Romeo robot will in fact need to be capable of fulfilling several functions for the people it will be helping.

Its primary role will be to help with everyday tasks , like noting and remembering appointments or medication to be taken, compiling a shopping list and finding lost spectacles. Ideally, it ought also be able to detect if the person has a fall, and help them get up or call the emergency services if necessary .

Romeo will also act as a real companion, being able to make conversation, suggest games and play .

But it goes even further:
According to Rodolphe Gelin, Director of Research at Aldebaran, the robot could very well improve the social life of residents in retirement homes :

“Romeo can compare information provided by different elderly residents in a retirement home, about a film or a TV programme for example, and encourage them to meet each other.”

Why Romeo rather than any other humanoid robot?

What is really going to make the difference will be its ability to learn – a function to which Aldebaran is devoting a large part of its research. One of their projects is to teach Romeo to cook pancakes , following a recipe it will download from the Internet!
Having “learnt how to learn”, Romeo will therefore be capable of showing initiative and adapting itself according to its owner’s habits and tastes.

“Romeo could keep a person company, monitor their condition and remind them of appointments or to take their medicine. But the aim is for him to successfully learn habits in order to anticipate needs – for example, to offer a person their spectacles when he sees them sitting down in front of the TV.”