Hugging Face and Pollen Robotics show off first project: an open source robot that does chores

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Earlier this year, the open source AI code community and company Hugging Face, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, made waves by announcing the hiring of a former robotics engineer from Tesla’s Optimus program to lead its new effort — an open-source robotics program called “Le Robot.”

Today, that engineer, Remi Cadene, of Paris, France, posted on X a video showing what appears to be the first working humanoid robot from Hugging Face’s Le Robot program.

Called “Reachy2,” it is actually a humanoid robot designed by Pollen Robotics, another open source robot company based in Bordeaux, France, and which partnered with Hugging Face to train the robot to do a variety of household and safely interact with humans and dogs.

In a direct message over X to VentureBeat, Cadene further explained the novel training process behind Reachy2, clarifying the robot was initially “tele-operated” by a human wearing a virtual reality headset, who controlled it through the various chores, including placing cups on a dish rack and handing an apple or other object to a person safely and smoothly.

Then, a machine learning algorithm studied 50 videos of the teleoperation sessions in VR, each around 15 seconds long, before learning how to do the various chores on its own and guiding Reachy2 to do them. Each video is associated to a different sensor within the Reachy2 robot.After 40,000 and 60,000 steps of training, Reachy2 learned to rotate and hand and apple and rotate back to its original position.

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“We open sourced this dataset on Hugging Face with Pollen Robotics as well as the model we trained and used for the demo,” wrote Cadene to us on X.

That dataset is available here for anyone to use. “You can do the same at home on smaller robots,” he posted publicly on X.

The move to make advanced open source robotics AI open source comes at a time of generally increased development and funding of useful robotics outside of the lab and industrial settings. Companies including Figure and Cobot have raised collectively hundreds of millions on the promise of applying new concepts in machine learning, such as LLMs (OpenAI’s models in the case of Figure) to the domain of physical robots than can interact with people and their environment.

Hugging Face’s Le Robot is likely to place pressure on these rival robotics providers due to the fact that it is offering technology essentially for free — the brains of the robot, at least — in the form of sharing open source robotics code on its community and Github.

A match made in robot heaven

As for how Hugging Face’s Le Robot team ended up collaborating with Pollen Robotics, Cadene told VentureBeat that it was a natural alliance born out of geographic proximity and overlapping areas of research interest.

“We closely follow Pollen Robotics work and are amazed by their robots,” Cadene wrote. “We were looking for humanoid robots. They were looking for end-to-end training software. So the collaboration between Pollen with their robot Reachy and Hugging Face with LeRobot was natural, especially [since] they are located two hours away from our [Le Robot] lab in Paris, so we just visited them for a few days.”

Pollen Robotics has a rich history of developing accessible and open-source technologies for real-world applications. The company began in 2013 with Poppy, what it says was the first 3D printed open-source humanoid robot, designed for research purposes.

Since then, Pollen Robotics has been dedicated to creating open-source, open-science, and open-data products, working with scientists, artists, and innovators to explore new uses and make the robotic revolution accessible to everyone.

Its flagship product, Reachy 1, is an open-source, fully teleoperable robot starting at $9,750 (€8,990) though it is also available in different configurations including the Reachy Full Kit + Mobile Base for $43,500 (€39,990), the Reachy Full Kit for $30,500 (€27,990), the Reachy Starter Kit for $21,800 (€19,990), and the Reachy Arm Kit for $10,900 (€9,990).

It excels at interacting with people and manipulating objects, built with prepackaged AI and modular robotics to kickstart any real-world application.

Pollen Robotics is also committed to ethical practices, ensuring that its technologies are accessible to everyone under open-source licenses, producing durable and reparable products, and rejecting military funding. It offers significant discounts and free services for open-source projects that protect the environment.

Reachy 2 is “coming soon,” according to the Pollen Robotics website, and is said to be “a giant step forward” with “all-new 7-DoF bio-inspired arms (3 kg payload each),” meaning it has arms with seven degrees of freedom (DoF), the same as human beings, which can each around hold six pounds at a time.

VentureBeat has reached out to Pollen Robotics for more information on Reachy 2 and the collaboration with Hugging Face’s Le Robot and will update when we hear back.

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