5 questions to Aldebaran' studio superstar Alexandre Mazel

Alexandre Mazel is a historical figure of Aldebaran and is much known among the Community for his work both on NAO and on Romeo and also for his awesome Youtube channel (we are not even mentioning his hair). Just as we did for Rodolphe Gélin and Romeo a few month ago, we wanted to let the community ask several questions to Alexandre. Today is D-Day with tips on how he daily works at Aldebaran and who cuts his hair. How do you work as a team (with Valentin for example, you have very different backgrounds) and what is your creation process? In my previous company (it was in the video game field), I was used to working hand in hand with animators and graphic designers because it's a pleasure to share vision and it was always a great source of inspiration. So naturally when we realized that our work on NAO requires a lot of movement animations, we looked for an animator, and so we hired Valentin. Our method of creation is quite simple: we're going to lunch with the team and we're throwing as many bullshit and silly ideas as possib


Shaping the world with Céline, head of NAOLabs Studio

Céline Boudier is a fixture at Aldebaran, who has known the company through several of its growth stages, and has many insightful views on NAO and robotics. We were lucky enough to steal a bit of her time to interview her. I understand you've been working at Aldebaran for a few years. Can you tell us a bit about your history in the company? Indeed I've been working at Aldebaran for more than five years! A "lustrum" then I wanted to join a fun, innovative Parisian Robotics company after finishing my studies. Tadaa! Aldebaran was here to welcome me in the then "AppU" team that older Aldebaranians and NAO testers might remember! I've been doing applications and Choregraphe boxes for a lot of different purposes. Then a few years ago I was asked to create applications for children with autism as the ASK NAO project was being created!

So what's your job now? Now I manage the NAOLabs Studio, the best team ever! (Alexandra, Alexandre, Jessica, Laurent, Salah, Valentin, thank you


Shaping the world with Nicolas, production manager at Aldebaran

Who are you and what’s your job at Aldebaran? My name is Nicolas Delatre and I’m production manager at Aldebaran. That means I'm in charge of the NAO production line with my team of a dozen people. On top of working with our production partners, my team in Paris is in charge of checking each robot one by one then hand them over to the quality team where they are tested from an end user point of view.  

Basically we check the hardware and they check the software before the robots are sent to the customer. There’s also another part of the team who’s in charge of assembling Romeo, our humanoid research robot, intended to deepen research on assistance for those who have lost autonomy. Tell us about your story at Aldebaran. I joined in march 2008. We were around 35 people in the company back then, and it was supposed to just be a four month internship at the end of my mechatronics licence. Then I worked one month more before I was supposed to enter engineering school. 

I started on the production line, as a technician, then as I was doing a good job I was asked to fix defective robots. Then I created our customer care team


Shaping the world with Valentin, animator at Aldebaran

Today we are opening a new series of articles focused on what our teams do to improve our robots and the world of robotics. It's not necessarily obvious to all of you what over 350 geeks are working on at Aldebaran everyday. This interview series will try to clarify that for you. Let's start with the position of Animator, nicely and clearly explained by Valentin. How long you have been at Aldebaran and why did you choose to work here? I've been working here for almost 5 years now. A friend of mine told me that Aldebaran was looking for an animator. He showed me this corporate video of Nao (there was not a lot of videos at this time) and I was really impressed to see a humanoid robot that was able to grab objects and walk like this. But clearly, the animations needed to be improved! Tell us about your job at Aldebaran... What is it you do exactly? I'm an animator, it means that I have to give life (or the illusion of life) to our robots. When I arrived at Aldebaran, I was the first animator to work here. The software and the hardware quality was far from what we have today, even if it was already great, but it was not so intuitive to make animations! I made several dances (Thriller, Vangelis, Evolution of dance...), stories (Star Wars, Presentation) and a lot of animations for different apps. I also created a big animat


5 questions about Romeo

Romeo is Aldebaran's second robot. Much taller than NAO, Romeo is destined to help elderly people, and he's being developped in our offices. We gave the opportunity to our forum members to ask questions about Romeo to Rodolphe Gélin, head of collaborative projects at Aldebaran, and here are his answers : Is Romeo going to be strictly aimed for the care of the elderly or do you see it targeted as a common household servant? Romeo is partly funded by collaborative projects dedicated to assistance to elderly people. So we are putting a special focus on assistance for elderly people : memory, locomotion, safety but also entertainment. And because we believe in the concept of “design for all”  (what is useful for some should be useful for everyone), we keep in mind that elderly people will not be the only users of our robots. But as for Nao, we don’t want to see Romeo mainly as a servant but as a companion that cares of its human friends. Of course, the size of Romeo will offer new capabilities to it (see next question). What physical capabilities will Romeo have? Will he be able to open close doors, move and l


NAO's Mission to Mars

When the day finally comes for man to land on Mars, NAO will be ready to accompany them in their exploration of the red planet. NAO has joined an international crew of analog astronauts, as an 8th member of the crew, for a two weeks simulated mission to Mars. At the Mars Desert Research Station, in the high desert of Utah, the crew performed multiple experiments in the most realistic conditions. NAO acted as their companion and Yoga trainer. He also assisted in a telesurgery experiment. “In our relatively short, two week mission, we will use the NAO to lay the foundation for longer-term, human / robot interactions studies” said Dr. Susan Jewell, M.D., Executive Officer and Medical Officer. “As the fastest trip to Mars will be no less than eight months duration, one-way, something like the NAO will be a valuable companion for the few-in-number, human crews. We hope to consider the NAO as our eighth crew member by the time we return from a simulated Mars.” You can learn more about the mission and follow the captain’s blog at http://marscrew134.org/ Robots like the Mars Exploration Rover have already prece


ASK NAO receives a Blue Ribbon Award

The IBCCES (for International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards) is the largest independent credentialing and continuing education organizations with a focus in special needs and human services. This means that they know what they’re talking about when giving a Blue Ribbon Award to the ASK NAO program for our innovative approach to engaging students with autism. This is great news for everyone who’s been working hard to make ASK NAO a success, as The IBCCES’ recognition will help the program reach more kids on the autism spectrum in need of a new therapeuthic solution. To learn more about the program, watch this video and head to our ASK NAO website.


Happy New Year with NAO!

Yes, it's this time of year again, and we just wanted to share a little something with you... We hope you'll like it! (If you want to share this with your friends, we also have a special website at www.nao-2014.com) We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let's meet again in 2014 to keep on changing the world!  

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