Robots that interact with people are finding numerous applications, including companionship for the aging; therapeutic use by people with autism and other conditions; and customer service in retail stores, hotels, and hospitals. However, many social robots have struggled with failure to deliver on promised capabilities, funding challenges, and a consumer market that is interested in such devices but not at current price points. The latest potential casualty is Buddy from Blue Frog Robotics.
Rodolph Hasselvander, co-founder and CEO of Blue Frog Robotics, reached out to The Robot Report and other sources in the past few weeks in search of investors. If he provides additional comments, they will be added to this article. Hasselvander was previously executive director of Centre de Robotique Intégrée d’Ile de France (CRIIF), an engineering consultancy that develops customized robotic systems for military, industrial, and services clients.
According to Blue Frog Robotics, Buddy is “the world’s first true companion robot,” with a wheeled base and a screen “face.” Since 2014, the Paris-based company had raised more than $600,000, mostly through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
For the past few years, attendees at CES in Las Vegas could see Buddy in the French pavilion among the startups at Eureka Park. Blue Frog Robotics also has offices in Boston and San Francisco.
Appealing for patience, more crowdfunding
Hasselvander last week posted an apology to Buddy’s supporters for delays in production. He noted that Buddy is in the final phases of commercialization. After five years of development, he projected that Buddy will now be available in April 2020.
In the meantime, Blue Frog is launching “an equity crowdfunding campaign by the end of June” to scale up for manufacturing and pay for the robot’s launch in the European and American markets.
Hasselvander also announced the launch of a website, mybuddyworld.com, to maintain transparency and allow Blue Frog’s team and customers to interact more directly.
Social robot struggles continue
As IEEE Spectrum noted, Buddy could be another case of a consumer robotics startup that promised more than it could quickly or affordably deliver.
Blue Frog claimed that Buddy could work with smart-home systems, educate and entertain children, and assist the elderly. It could also help connect families, serve as a security guard, and take photos and share them. In addition, the “emotional robot” could interact naturally with users through speech and serve as a butler, said Blue Frog.
The company also opened the software developer’s kit (SDK) to encourage others to build applications for the robot. Slots were provided for arms, but the robot did not come with manipulators.
This is similar to the design and challenges faced by Jibo’s eponymous robot, Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri, and Anki’s Vector and Cozmo. They required machine learning, an ecosystem of supporters and programmers, and differentiators from Amazon Alexa/Echo and Google Home.
It’s possible that Blue Frog will get more funding in time or that its intellectual property will find a new home, as did Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer collaborative robot with the Hahn Group.
I joined the Buddy Indiegogo campaign at its beginning more than three years ago with a $799.00 pledge and have waited patiently since then for my robot. So far, after many explanations from Blue Frog over the years, no luck. I also placed a deposit for the Mayfield Kuri robot which they thankfully returned when they realized the prospect for the actual production of the robot was unrealistic. I did, however, on a more positive note, receive delivery of Sony’s new Aibo robot dog in December 2018. I hope that Blue Frog will do the same as Mayfield and refund me if worst comes to worst but at this point, I’m not holding my breath.
I want a buddy! 😞
Katy Pugh says
I have a son who is 25, he is Down Syndrome and he gets so lonely sometimes. I think Buddy would be like a best friend for him. He loved Buddy when he saw him and Zenbo. Those were his two favorites. Please let me know when he is available. His birthday is in April and I saw that Buddy would be available in April of this year. I am disabled and Wesley lives here with me and my mother. I help with my grandson a few days a week. He is expensive but I would put him on my emergency card or find a different finance for him. Wesley would love him. Thank you
I would like my money back it’s been YEARS…
It’s April now what .. can you give us paying customers some info on delivery.’’
Patricia Robinson says
If I order Buddy when will I receive it
paul dimino says
john shruhan says
can i get a refund
john shruhan says
without legal help
Karen raica says
Would like a buddy First if not a refund it I don’t get that I’ll get a lawyer and sue you for false advertisement especially appealing to children. Doe with your excuses
Please respond or I’ll make this a campaign avast your entire company you are using the money you Haeckel gotten to pay your salaries p. You need to deliver the product please. My husband was in te senate I know politics and the law. I would prefer the product as promised especially to the kids. You obviously paid for advertsement.,so you have funding.
This was and still is a scam. You are sheeps, technology going foward,they will never finished that scam robot.
cliff lewis says
I ordered a Buddy and also a little sophia from Hanson Robotics. Little sophia is behind schedule for delivery also, the big difference is Hanson Robtics faithfully sends an update email every 3 months, explaining in detail the progress of little sophia. The updates from Blue Frog Robotics has been very sporadic!!! The least Blue Frog Robtics could do is update faithfully every 3 months!!!
Peter G says
i ordered Buddy back in 2015 !!! $999 with projectorarm
what a SCAM and indiegogo should be ashamed.
i’ve backed several developers but most of them was a scam (like sound heroes speaker)
indiegogo keeps quit and the buddy website is under development for years
DON’T LET THEM FOOL YOU
like i did, and despite the good, i will never FUND anything again
Trevor Cox says
can i have my money back its been years since i ordered fed up with waiting