Interview with Pharaon partner Manuele Bonaccorsi, CO-ROBOTICS

Dr. Manuele Bonaccorsi is the co-founder and CEO of Co-Robotics, a spin-off company of Scuola Superiore S.Anna in Pisa, Italy.

1. Which industry do you work with the most, and which one do you feel is more accepting of cooperative robots?

We believe robots have to be socially relevant. Our robots are used for surveillance and logistics, as well as interaction with customers. The more a robot has a comfortable and proper design, and demonstrates its utility, it will be accepted by the users and customers. This is the reason our robot has a modular design.

2. Which one of your projects has been the most successful so far and why?

The MoVer-1 Robot is attracting the interest of many players because it can be used as an industrial or a social interaction robot. It is one of its kind thanks to the swing-role opportunity, which gives it flexibility of use and a value for money perception.

3. Considering our love to interact with each other, do you feel that there has been resistance to these new technologies or have they embraced robots?

The real challenge for us is to fit user’s expectations. A social robot could be accepted if it provides really useful services. Knowing that Acceptability = Utility + Usability + more other attributes, we try to set up our robots to be as acceptable as we can. The marketing experts will find the way to co-design with users and stakeholders the proper social service to address. The people embrace technologies that improve the quality of life or the quality of work. Making really useful robotic social services is the next big challenge in robotics.

4. How do you see the future impact of robotics in everyday life?

I think robots will be used in the near future to improve the quality of work and life in social-related businesses like restaurants, hotels or fairs, performing environmental sanitising (against virus/bacteria), concierge and logistic services. After this first market penetration, experience and technology will be mature enough to perform steps in “on-site” advertising and eventually, after adressing important legal barriers, also most complex surveillance and safety services. The real challenge again is the utility and usability of the robotic service, that must really make the difference.

5. Our role in Pharaon project

CO-ROBOTICS is technology provider in the Pharaon project, thanks to the experience in innovation management, social robotics and IoT. The company will explore the opportunity to foster the up-take of socially-relevant technologies including IoT devices and robots in older persons’ care and environmental safety (monitoring and sanitising).

About Co-Robotics

The company was founded by engineers, all experts in robotics and ICT, and has grown since to include mechanics and software experts. In 2016, the company started to exploit the outcomes from several EU and Italian research projects, such as the Robot-Era project which consisted of the implementation and integration of advanced Robotic systems and intelligent Environments in real scenarios for the ageing population.

In 2019 Co-Robotics acquired shares of a software company (Xeel srl) and a marketing company (roboalive srl) to improve its market positioning and easily access external competences, in order to provide a more complete portfolio to its customers. Furthermore, Co-Robotics has created a value chain of partners such as Cresco-Lab srls, R3Direct srl and Softsystem srl, enabling it to design innovative automation systems for customers and deposit patents. The company has sold 7 mobile robots in two years, six of which were the MoVer1 robotic platform which was designed to be modular and easy to customize. This latter was brought to a TRL8 technology readiness level thanks to the hard work and cooperation of the team as well as stakeholders and value partners. In response to the CoVid-19 pandemic the company released some prototype of sanitising robotic service that can be found on its YouTube channel.


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