Reachy The Open Source Robot Says Bonjour

Humanoid robots always attract attention, but anyone who tries to build one quickly learns respect for a form factor we take for granted because we were born with it. Pollen Robotics wants to help move the field forward with Reachy: a robot platform available both as a product and as a wealth of information shared online.

This French team has released open source robots before. We’ve looked at their Poppy robot and see a strong family resemblance with Reachy. Poppy was a very ambitious design with both arms and legs, but it could only ever walk with assistance. In contrast Reachy focuses on just the upper body. One of the most interesting innovations is found in Reachy’s neck, a cleverly designed 3 DOF mechanism they called Orbita. Combined with two moving antennae at the top of the head, Reachy can emote a wide range of expressions despite not having much of a face. The remainder of Reachy’s joints are articulated with Dynamixel serial bus servos though we see an optional Orbita-based hand attachment in the demo video (embedded below).

Reachy’s € 19,990 price tag may be affordable relative to industrial robots, but it’s pretty steep for the home hacker. No need to fret, those of us with smaller bank accounts can still join the fun because Pollen Robotics has open sourced a lot of Reachy details. Digging into this information, we see Reachy has a Google Coral for accelerating TensorFlow and a Raspberry Pi 4 for general computation. Mechanical designs are released via web-based Onshape CAD. Reachy’s software suite on GitHub is primarily focused on Python, which allows us to experiment within a Jupyter notebook. Simulation can be done within Unity 3D game engine, which can be optionally compiled to run in a browser like the simulation playground. But academic robotics researchers are not excluded from the fun, as ROS1 integration is also available though ROS2 support is still on the to-do list.

Reachy might not be as sophisticated as some humanoid designs we’ve seen, and without a lower body there’s no way for it to dance. But we are very appreciative of a company willing to share knowledge with the world. May it spark new ideas for the future.

[via Engadget]

11 thoughts on “Reachy The Open Source Robot Says Bonjour

      1. A guy went around killing those creepy silent street people. He was caught, convicted, and sent to prison…. because….wait for it… wait for it……a Mime is a terrible thing to waste.

  1. Reminds me of the movie Hugo.

    In these dark non-contact days this might be the future of retail.

    I so want one…if only to freak out the neighbors.

    I can’t wait for the first cop to pull over a car after bars close and find him driving….but occifer…hick…he wasn’t drinking….

  2. Pro’s:
    – Looks like a fun robot / most people would be happy interacting with this
    – A lot of people (mostly elderly and young kids) will be blown away by this, it looks pretty futuristic
    – Using a bit of cloth is a clever way to make it easily customizable & save some time on 3d printing a chest

    – Anybody who’s paid attention to diy robotics over the past years will see this as very much overpriced (estimate at most 3k in parts?)
    – Dynamixels are great for hobby stuff, but the ‘low tier’ ones they use are not all that great for ‘serious’ stuff, after a bit of use these get loud (not great for events, hotel desks, etc) and they are not really made for continued use, they will break down quicker then expected.
    – The wobbling might be perceived as cute by some, but really means the dynamixels are either configured poorly (possibly to give it a certain level of compliance?) or already near their max ratings (note how its only allowed to handle lightweight stuff) both will mean increased wear on those, so again, these would need replacing often. Also there seems to be a bit of a feedback loop with the head wobble where it almost doesn’t want to stop? Maybe edit that code a bit :P


    Dont get me wrong its a cool robot that im sure some people & companies will love & find a use for, but at 20k its a BIT much, while there certainly is an argument that this thing is much more expressive, if you consider that for 5k more you buy a baxter wich is like night and day difference (read: baxter is that much better at any task you’d give either, while it might be slower at some it would be at much higher reliability) then the 20k price point they set is just a shotgun to the foot? i would’ve aimed for 5-8k range, that way there would definably still be a profit in it for them but at the same time it would actually sell tons.

    1. I don’t think you’re being fair to Reachy here.

      First, raw parts cost is far higher than $3k.

      While writing this article, I looked up its Dynamixel servos listed in the documentation. MSRP for all Dynamixel in both arms, both hands, and antennae on the head adds up to ~$4K USD for standard and ~$5K USD for performance. So the $3k estimate is already too low.

      The Orbita neck mechanism uses three Maxon motors and I had no luck finding price tags. Maxon motors prices seem to all be behind “Contact your Maxon sales representative” walls.

      And that’s just the motors.

      – –

      Second, it’s unfair to compare a currently available robot against one that’s been out of production for years. At the very minimum the old prices need to be adjusted for inflation.

      And those prices were apparently not enough to sustain a company, as Rethink Robotics went under and their assets were purchased by someone else. The new owners are selling an updated Sawyer at a higher price, with no signs of Baxter I could find or any word of support for older versions. Where will replacement parts come from? Software wise, they came with ROS1 Indigo. Which is now EOL and… (Jade, Kinetic, Lunar, Melodic, Noetic) 5 releases out of date. Would ROS2 ever happen for those old robots? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      – –

      Third, they target entirely different markets. Reachy has no ambition to work on a factory floor as Baxter and Sawyer did.

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