Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts

Archive for the ‘Robotics’ Category

January 19th, 2015 by Clement Charles

Buckle Up. And let’s get started.

The upcoming 25 years are going to be so exciting. Check this great video, both greatly produced and with a profoundly optimistic message.

April 10th, 2014 by Clement Charles

Mars & Beyond. Panel discussion.

I was honored to moderate and drive the debate at the CSEM event on Mars and beyond. On April 9th, at the event Mars & Beyond, organized by the CSEM. The event had a fantastic line up with astronautes such as Claude Nicollier,  Elena Kondakova, moonwalker Charlie Duke as well as industrial ecology specialist Prof. Erkman or the technical director of the European Space Agency, Mr. Franco Ongaro.


Below, please find more information about the questions discussed with the panel and a presentation of the fantastic panelist and my personal conclusion on what means the future of space for mankind.

During this panel, we did talk about the three upcoming moments for the conquest of space in the 21st century. First of all, right now, the private space era is open, while public space still leads.
Then, the second moment will be the missions – with an S, they will be many – that will take us to work and live permanently in space, around earth, on the moon or on Mars.
The third phase, in the second half of the century, could see a wider seeding of the solar system by courageous women and men, paving the way for further, more massive, migration.
Private & Public Space ( 2015-2020)
While government have open the door to most of the achievement in the conquest of space, the last 10 years have seen the rise of the new generation of private spaces companies. Initiated by Peter Diamandis’ X Prize in 2004, the rate for private space is on with majors companies such as Space X, Blue Origin, Bigelow Aerospace, 3S, Orbital Sciences are now in business. Space X billionaire founder Elon Musk has planned to travel to Mars and possible die there – I mean, not during the landing phase.
– How credible are the private ventures for Mars ? will there be private companies there in the 10 years ?
– There is a lot of excitation around private space. What is the biggest risk for those corporations… Run out of financing ? Impossible technical challenge ?
– How will government be able to maintain /reinvest their position in the space while having difficulties to raise awareness of the need for space ? How can they be sure not to leave the table before the winning bet ?
Living & Working In Space (2020-2040)
Let’s know see the moment where both private and public spaces succeeded in going to Mars and in installing industries and real estate in orbit of any of our two planets, the blue and the red one.
– How will those company make money in space: zero gravity industries ? Asteroid mining ? Deuterium collection ?
– How to invest today to serve market that don’t exist yet but that may huge (i.e. deuterium)? Is « Planetary Ressources » just a joke for investor ?
– Low orbit, high orbit, the moon, Mars… What is the juridiction ? Will it be a new frontier, with a « fist come, first served » basis ? What’s the risk to have « de facto » space nation or orbital corporation unlinked in any earth powers ?
And Beyond (2040-2100)
Technical challenges are only a part of the problems that we need to solve. As in computer security, where the risk is always between the keyboard and the chair, all the technical solutions will not solve the psychological challenge of travelling away from earth  for long times, for generation, and without never coming back .
Is there plenty of people that would be ready to leave for ever ? 
Going beyond…. When we have the technology (not discussed), how can we handle the psychology, the deep change in the purpose of one’s life.  A life in a can ? In multi-generational motherships ? A crew on pause ?
How are the next destination for mankind… We all read and saw artist views about Mars and Galilean moons, … What next in the solar system ?
Living on solid ground or orbiting around anything with a mass ? Any where and any way, what’s the expected benefit ?
Create the adequate technology to support extreme conditions or invest in genetical engineering to adapt to all the upcoming natural conditions?
Going away from the solar system: any miles stone / pit stop until Alpha Centauri…  Oort cloud? Brown dwarfs ?
Making mankind a multi planetary species is the mission and the purpose of our generation. Astronautes like Elena Kondakova, Charlie Duke or Claude Nicollier and today’s professionals like Prof. Erkman or Mr. Ongaro are now to be followed by a new generation of pioneers, pushing the frontier, paving roads to new worlds. Their commitment, their emotions  are proof that the exploring are central to the uniqueness of mankind.
We saw today the convergence between improving life on earth and expanding the reach of mankind. We confirmed the similarities between the challenge of sending a crew in a metal ship  on Mars and the necessity that everyone’s mothership, Earth, can host, feed and support all its human passenger.
Indeed, despite the fantastic progress that we encountered over the past centuries, we – the human species – are a turning point where we are deciding now, at the dawn of the millenium, the type of futures that upcoming generation will be able to enjoy.
Whatever your vision of the future is, expanding to space is essential to our future and the upcoming generations. To keep learning, to improve life on earth, to find solution that are universally applicable or to be sure we have somewhere else to survive if our Earth vessel has problems.
The sky is the limit ? This is so 20th century… Sky is not the limit, it’s the starting line.
A starting line to reach and live everywhere we can – on the low orbit, on moon, on mars, on the moons of Jupiter, to then go outside our solar systems to other stars, other suns, other worlds.
Mankind, as a whole, is capable of the worse and of the best. The history and the present of space is a tale of science, mutual respect, innovative technology, a tale of peace and courage… A tale of the best in ourselves. This is what we need to spread, what we need to cherish and support, what we need take away in other worlds.
Our long term is future is on Earth.
Our long term future is also everywhere else.
So let’s go….
November 12th, 2013 by Clement Charles

Robots Army in the Future

The utilization of Robotics in military is well shown by US army. The utilization of robotics technology in military led to a new field in robotics i.e. Military Robotics.

Military robotics isn’t about creating an army of humanoids but utilization of robotics technology for fighting terror and defending the nation. Thus, military robots need not be humanoids or they not necessarily need to carry weapons, they are just those robots that can help the armed forces. The opportunities offered by these technologies are boundless.

Apart from army research centers there are many private firms also which provide military robots for defense forces like Foster Miller,21st Century Robotics, EOD Performance, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics etc. They have created many job opportunities and are developing this sector. It is expected that its market will extend up to $9.8 billion by 2016.

If you are interested to know more about those military, check this great compilation in a YouTube channel.

November 12th, 2013 by Clement Charles

How Robots Will Change the World – BBC/NRK Documentary

Robotics is the art and commerce of robots, their design, manufacture, application, and practical use. Robots will soon be everywhere, in our home and at work. They will change the way we live. This will raise many philosophical, social, and political questions that will have to be answered. In science fiction, robots become so intelligent that they decide to take over the world because humans are deemed inferior. In real life, however, they might not choose to do that. Robots might follow rules such as Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, that will prevent them from doing so. When the Singularity happens, robots will be indistinguishable from human beings and some people may become Cyborgs: half man and half machine.

November 8th, 2013 by Clement Charles

Small Robots – big hopes

November 1st, 2013 by Clement Charles

insect inspired flying robot


Adrien Briod, researcher at EPFL, has designed this really interesting insect inspired robot that can bump into obstacles and keep flying.

It’s just one of the exciting project you have at The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics, which is a nation-wide center, launched by the Swiss National Science Foundation, with the common objective of developing new, human-oriented robotic technology for improving our quality of life.   This center gathers leading robotic experts in Switzerland from cutting-edge research institutions: EPFLas the home institution, ETH ZurichUniversity of Zurich and Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Launched on 1 December 2010, the NCCR Robotics will run for up to twelve years. The NCCR Robotics brings together Swiss robotic research and aims to generate long-term benefits to society as a whole. Through this website, we would like to establish two-way communication about robotics in Switzerland and abroad with researchers, students, teachers, industries, and the general public.

August 6th, 2013 by Clement Charles

Robots and industrial futures


A great article by InternetActu on LeMonde blog’s platform – click here. In French. But heavily based (a bit too much) on the translation / quoting / pumping / reformulating of  a december 12 article published in Wired by Kevin Kelly titled Better Than Human: Why Robots Will — And Must — Take Our Jobs.

Still, a good read to enjoy and encompass this exciting trends of having robots doing all the hard work ; )


July 26th, 2013 by Clement Charles

A day with Vuzix AR Glasses

Google will not the only company offering AR Glasses. Check this video of a day with Vuzix
Less sleak and sexy than Google video… But product is in store and company has a focus on their vision ; ) Compared to Google video, I think this may be a bit more credible in terms of intrusivity (high) and UI (weak) in a 2013 perspective.

May 10th, 2013 by Clement Charles

RHex, the jumping robot acrobat

Discover X-RHex-Light, aka RHex, the latest invention from University of Pennsylvania. The idea is let such robots go « Toward a Vocabulary of Legged Leaping » ! Let’s go.