When we talk about the construction of industrial robots, we often think of large production lines, state-of-the-art and packed with technology. The property of Isybot, a start-up of the CEA founded in 2016 and located on the plateau of Paris-Saclay, in Ile-de-France, is far from what you can imagine.
A single piece is enough to store all the components that will be used to assemble Isybot’s collaborative industrial robots, the culmination of 15 years of research at CEA and a true breakthrough innovation. And the assembly of the robotic arm “SYB 3”, the star robot from Isybot, seems quite simple. † It takes a week to assemble. With only 3 people in production, we build the equivalent of 25 robots per year, or 2.5 million euros in turnover ‘, the leader describes. On a background of rock guitar that day 2 people are working in the workshop and the parts fit together like one would build a huge mechanic. †
We are all fans of building games at Isybot “, slips, laughing, Yvan Measson.
Geek culture as inspiration
This passion for Lego®, Kapla® and other building games prompted Yvan Measson to study robotics. †
Ever since I was little I have loved to design objects, imagining that I am giving them life. I was also a big science fiction fan. I grew up in the 80s with Grendizer, Star Wars or Issac Asimov and his book The Robot Cycle… All of this fueled my imagination and my desire to develop autonomous machines. “, he confides.
Leaving technical school, his childhood dream came true in a rather original way. †
I belonged to the last generation of men who completed their military service in the late 1990s. And as a scientific conscript, I was assigned to the CEA in Marcoule where I worked on the decommissioning of nuclear installations using robots. We wanted to clean nuclear environments while minimizing worker exposure to radiation Yvan Measson says. Research projects with a “humanistic purpose” that appeal to the young engineer and reinforce his desire to work in robotics. He will never leave the organization. †
I am a pure product of the CEA he slips out.
Pioneer of cosmetics
Over the next 15 years, Yvan Measson explored different areas such as nuclear energy, minimally invasive surgery or agriculture. In 2006 he was promoted to head of the laboratory for teleoperations and cobotics – a neologism that condenses the terms ‘collaborative’ and ‘robot’ to denote a new generation of robots designed to share work with workers. Unlike traditional robots that act autonomously, “cobots” depend on an operator to perform their tasks. Thus they become man’s assistant and not his substitute. At the time, cobotics was a new discipline that needed to be explored. It stems from an evolution of a fundamental European directive that allows operators to work next to living machines (2006/42/EC). They no longer need to be kept in a cage and at a distance. In the industry, they represent disruptive innovation and a ”
exciting project for Yvan Measson.
Yvan Measson, CEO of Isybot © CEA
Machines that are useful to humans
This revolution also reflects his deep desire to develop machines that are useful to humans and capable of increasing human know-how. †
I am very attached to the industry and its professions. I firmly believe that robotics, and cobots in particular, are a response to the phenomenon of deindustrialization. By relieving operators from grueling and repetitive tasks, we free up time that they can spend on higher-value tasks. This makes industrial jobs much more attractive he promises.
An accurate view of industrial needs
In 2010, Yvan Measson became a business developer for his lab with the mission of transferring robotics technologies to industry. By meeting manufacturers, he discovered the need to deploy cobots in factories, especially for manual tasks that were difficult to automate or very difficult to perform. But that diffuse need did not encourage anyone at the time to invest in the development of these new machines.
So, spurred on by Yann Perrot, the director of the CEA’s interactive robotics lab, he decided to focus his research on this area. Leveraging the institute’s innovation portfolio, the engineer is developing a robotic arm equipped with control technologies without force sensors or gears. And to attract manufacturers, Yvan Measson focuses on industrial sanding.
One of the specialties of the Isybot robotic arm: industrial sanding © Isybot
A leap into the unknown that turns out to be a winner. In 2016, the roboticist created the start-up Isybot and that same year he signed a first order with the SNCF and then with Dassault Aviation. Airbus, but also Safran or even the manufacturer of Beneteau sailboats trust him. The first robots will be operational in 2018.” I never thought I would ever start a business. But when I became a business developer, it was a revelation. I discovered that I had the commercial fiber, and that I loved to persuade “, he is still having fun today. And to add:
and then it also corresponded to a small quarantine crisis. It was time for me to seize new opportunities. †
In particular, Isybot collaborates with the sailboat manufacturer Beneteau © Isybot
And to see Isybot’s staggering growth, we tell ourselves it would have been a shame if Yvan Measson hadn’t tried his luck. But he admits that setting up such a project is not easy and he had to learn to let go. However, it knows where it wants to go and Isybot has big plans for the coming years, such as international opening, diversification of applications and applications (polishing, grinding, handling, etc.) and deployment in new industrial sectors… An ambition that he remains build in collaboration with the robotics laboratory of the CEA.
The Isybot cobot, a tool for the industry of the future
Thanks to the gearless system, the Isybot cobot is light, easy to move and above all safer than a conventional robot. An autonomous machine designed in the CEA laboratories – and patented in 2001 – but also by the operators themselves. † We wanted to make a machine that would be really useful for operators, so we gave them models and took their feedback into account. » says Yvan Measson.
Result: this robot arm is very easy to use. Installed on a trolley with only 2 buttons, the SYB cobot does not change the factory environment, but becomes a real ally for operators, even those without robot training. †
The drastic simplification of the machine allows us to deploy it very quickly. Teams will be formed in half a day ‘ says the entrepreneur.
And more importantly for Yvan Measson: the robot is not left in a corner of the workshop. Bodybuilders have made it their own and see the benefits of the SYB 3 cobot on a daily basis.
They don’t feel dependent on the robot. Moreover, some even define themselves as cobot pilots, which radically changes the perception of their work. » explains Yvan Measson proudly.
Interview by Anne-Laure Lebrun