Climate change is a global problem that is bound to affect every single person on the planet. It is a common enemy that does not differentiate between social status, ethnicity or race. Rising sea levels and frequent hurricanes present a real threat. However, increasing respiratory disorders are more of an unseen effect of climate change. Industrialized nations release millions of tons of carbon and other gases into the atmosphere, increasing the chances of asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and a host of other diseases. In light of this, it is paramount that people maintain a clean environment indoors, if not outdoors.
That is precisely what Partnering Robotics aims to do. Maintain a clean indoor working environment inside people’s homes as well as offices with its unique state-of-the-art robot. Robots are used by numerous sectors such as manufacturing, automobiles, supply chains, construction, and so on. Owing to its vast applications, robotics has come a long way from assembly robots in automobile assembly plants. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning coupled with innovations in robotics have stimulated interest in designing robots that are able to carry out wide-ranging tasks. However, Partnering Robotics is the first company to pioneer a way to clean the air indoors and keep it that way through innovative use of sensory data compiled through a plethora of instruments powered by an artificial intelligence algorithm. Its robot, christened the Diya One X is the world’s very first robot dedicated to wellness.
In conversation with the brains behind Partnering Robotics, Ramesh Caussy
Q. Can you talk about your company’s flagship offering?
Partnering Robotics created Diya One X (autonomous mobile robot) that is dedicated to the well-being of buildings or open space occupants by continuously making indoor atmosphere analyses (air quality, temperature, relative humidity, level of sound, and luminosity) and cleaning the air. This best-in-class robot can charge its battery and perform its service all day in highly dynamic environments where people work and live. Besides these services, Diya one X generates granular indoor mass data square meter by square meter. This data enables the team at Partnering Robotics to propose an excellent suite of service data such as indoor air maps or Live Dynamic Dash Board that gives weekly relevant KPI about the indoor atmosphere. My robot makes the invisible air pollution visible in real-time and takes care of people; this is why we call it the well-being robot.
In recent years, there has been a distinct shift in the way companies are taking care of employee wellness. As a result, many organizations are starting to invest more in comprehensive employee programmes to improve the well-being of employees. By employing Partnering Robotics’ Diya One X in place, employers can take care of their employees’ air quality and thereby increase their productivity and reduce the rate of absenteeism.
Q. How was your company’s first project received?
Partnering Robotics was awarded the “Key R&D” success in 2013 for its “neuro-inspired approach” by the European Commission. Our advanced prototype was demonstrated in 2014 and we started the sales process in 2017. The European Commission classified Partnering Robotics as a “Future Unicorn” in 2018. Meanwhile, we received more than 25 awards in various regions across the world. When you are in the field of disruptive innovation, everything is complex and takes time: from prototypes to the actual product to marketing. We are making some progress and this is keeping us happy. We are in the process of scaling.
Q. Would you describe your company as a leader or a follower?
Just imagine you are in the field of disruptive innovation and you are following. This would obviously suggest that something is going wrong! We are definitely in a leader’s mindset. When I started with bio-inspired AI, an autonomous service robot for air quality and wellness in a position against humanoid robots in 2007, people were looking at me as though I was crazy. It is still the case today, by the way!
Today, Partnering Robotics has an amazing team of 35 talented researchers, engineers, and business developers. Rich in their experience in large international teams and task forces in highly competitive fields such as IT, these 35 employees including 9 women, are centered on the dynamic city of Paris for a technology in the service of well-being and energy efficiency.
Q. What were the challenges that you faced in your early years?
One of the most challenging things in a technological project is to keep the belief of a team in a potential success alive when everything is taking time and you have limited cash. Surviving is a skill! It is not about “Improvised innovation”, it is about what I would call “YOGA innovation” when you diminish your breath frequency to keep things alive. On emerging trends, there is a huge need to create awareness. This cannot be done alone, so you need to stimulate the ecosystem by creating innovative content and ideas for people to share them while growing people’s sensitivity to your goals. Of course, all this was done without a budget by leveraging social media and conferences. Another point is how to move when a product component is not available? The answer is simple: just make the component specs and build it by yourself!
Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?
Of course, we do. We love to innovate. There are so many things I would like to do in this changing world. We are in a transition period. The players that will have a substantial position are those who will take some measured risks. There are so many leaders that still don’t realize that they won’t catch up if they don’t move radically. We are open to speaking with them and exchange information and ideas about new and existing projects that we have in the pipeline. In 5 years, every company will have a service robot: it’s time to move!
Q. Where do you see your company after a few years from now?
Our goal is to be on the stock market or collaborate with an ambitious company that is on track to become a worldwide leader in the service robotics market for indoor environments or buildings. People and workers will spend more time interacting with smart mobile devices within 5 years from now. All industries are invited to reinvent their interaction and service modalities.
Q. Do you foster a culture of feedback in your company?
Everything we are doing tends to stick to real-time feedback in the organization. Our technologies generate in real-time indoor data to sustain our analytical platform. This helps to perform immediate action by our support team. On the internal daily activities, we are also very reactive to feedback. For example, anytime we felt there is a potential issue or delay, we communicate with the team and form an action team. Above the “Scrum or Sprint process,” we cultivate the “guys, 2 minutes of your attention please” mechanism. This permits us to share collectively, the information, the issue, the options, quick action and sometimes a solution. But at least, the point is on our radar!
Q. How do you manage to serve the needs of an evolving market?
We have a plan, a roadmap, and we do not change until someone is paying for it! The customer cannot make your strategy, nor can an anxious sales & marketing team. When you have limited cash, “keeping focus” is the only acceptable rule.
Moreover, Partnering Robotics embodies diversity in business. I worked in large groups, in very promising sectors in terms of innovation. To realize my dream - to create a robot - I wanted to surround myself with talents from different horizons, men and women. Since 2007, every year, new employees join us. It’s an adventure - and so far - a collective success.
Q. “Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all actions,” how do you interpret this statement?
It is very well said and clear. I fully agree in general. But one thing I would like to say to nurture the idea when applying it to the new invention is the need to share constant information whatever the state of the project or the delivery process is. Sometimes you cannot deliver, but this doesn’t mean that you are not making a breakthrough.
Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s growth?
We address a global problem that is valuable to everyone and every organization.
Q. If you have to list five factors that are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be?
“Belief in the project and the managing team”: we can rely on our team. We want to become a reference, now that the competition is becoming active, but the team remains loyal to the project. “Agile” because we are doing a lot with a team of only 35 people from R&D to Innovation to production to data services to product support, etc. “Resilient” because we had to deal with situations of the team and cash tensions, but we were able to talk to each other and start again without losing course. “Optimist” because it allows us to remain positive in front of all the problems that we encounter, and to bring to the rhythm our effective solutions, without looking backwards. “Focused”, this point is probably the most important even if it comes at the end of the list: everyone knows what he or she must do without wasting time and without being distracted by external noises.
Q. Can you share some customer testimonials?
We have recently opened Partnering Robotics in Mauritius with the support of the Mauritian Government, the country Investment fund and one of the largest banks of the country the MCB Group. They are all supportive to make this unit a success for the African Region.
Meet the visionary behind the idea for Partnering Robotics, Ramesh Caussy
Dr. Ramesh Caussy, Ecole Polytechnique – France, created Partnering Robotics in 2007. He is the proud inventor of Diya One, the first neuro-inspired (artificial neural networks) service robot that takes care of indoor environments. He holds the industrial chair Roboethics, ethics in robotic service, by Grenoble INP Ensimag. He has worked for various Fortune 500 companies (Intel, Alcatel, 3Com contributing greatly to technological breakthroughs such as the release of XDSL, connected Palm and the Intel Connected TV platform. Dr. Ramesh Caussy has been introduced in the “disruption speakers” during the Global Wellness Summit 2017, Florida, USA. He heads the Well-Being group at Hub France IA and has been appointed a member of the Mauritius Artificial Intelligence Council.