CEO Stanley Robotics – Clement Boussard
First of all please tell us about who initiated and developed the robot.
We were two robotic researchers working on autonomous cars and had the idea to develop a robot which can move cars instead of developing a car that move itself. It sounds crazy, but the idea is to take the “very expensive” brain out of the smart car and to share it with “stupid” cars. We soon met Stéphane (former VP for Innovation at Bosch France), who co-founded the company with us. He is our “rocket scientist“ in charge of business development.
What was your motivation?
We had two motivations, a realistic and a futuristic one.
The realistic one was to stop doing research projects and develop a service that people will use today, not in the future. The futuristic one was to develop the first R2D2-like robot. R2D2, more than being one of the heroes in Star wars, is the “brain” that can be plugged into the X-wing Starfighter. R2D2 is the navigation system, the perception system, and, when necessary, the pilot of the spacecraft. We have done an R2D2 for cars!
Could you tell us about your background and how long it took you to bring your ideas to fruition?
I’m a PhD in Robotics. It took Aurélien and me a bit less than one year to have a first concept (not a robot!) that met a market need. Then, after founding the company with Stephane, It took us one year to build our first operational product.
How does the robot work?
It lifts cars and touches only the wheels. Look at the video.
What are the advantages of using your robots over human valets?
Our robot can do more than humans can. Nobody enters your car (you keep your keys with you), and Stan (our robot) can park cars with only 10 centimeters separating each car, because there is no need to open the doors.
What are the costs involved?
We don’t reveal that.
In a country such as France, where the labour laws are pretty strict, have you faced opposition and challenges in promoting your robots over humans?
No. We have created a service that is not possible to accomplish with humans. Our value proposition is to park more cars in a given area. Without the technology of our robot, you can’t do that.
Stanley Robotics at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris
Which are the countries you’re looking towards, to market your robots in the future?
Western europe to begin with. Then the whole of Europe, and finally the world.
Please tell us about your growing up and those who encouraged you to reach the point where you stand today.
Friends and Family were our best and first supporters. In France you have a fantastic ecosystem to help startups to develop themselves. We were first helped by our Families, who helped us to become entrepreneurs; then Scientipole (today’s name is Wilco), which gave us a loan; and then Agoranov, which is incubating us (Agoranov is an amazing incubator that has helped us with our day-to-day issues. In the U.S. one observes that startups, even mobile apps, can raise anywhere from 10 to 20 million dollars with relative ease.
Do you think raising money in Europe is more of a challenge?
It seems so, but I don’t know for certain. Hardware is different, and we have seen amazing French robotic startups raise a lot of money (such as Balyo or Navya)
Stanley Robotics Founders / CEO Clement Boussard, COO Stephane Evann and CTO Aurelien Cord
Our readership consists mostly of young adults in different parts of the world, and they look up to achievers such as you for inspiration. A word of advice for them?
Create your own startup , don’t be afraid to live your dreams and to believe in your ideas. Share them with others. Don’t be afraid to tell the world what you are going to do. Success is not in the idea but in the execution, and you are going to execute better than the others (because if you want to survive you have no other choice, actually). Don’t be afraid to fail, it is by failing that one learns to walk. And start today! Not tomorrow.
Photos: Stanley Robotics