European Business: Mr. Somville, Octopus Robots can be considered a start-up. However, the activities of your company date back to the 1980s. What is the reason for that?
Olivier Somville: The company was originally founded under the name MCAI in 1987 as a high tech manufacturer. With the diversification of our activities, we started to develop solutions for disinfection in hospitals, using a mobile robot. I got in contact with a poultry farmer by chance and saw the demand for a robot to carry out litter treatment in the barns and henhouses. We focused all our activities on the development of the Octopus Poultry Safe and established Octopus Robots S.A. in 2017.
European Business: Octopus Poultry Safe was awarded the INNOV’SPACE Trophy in 2016. What is the idea behind this robot?
Olivier Somville: The problem in henhouses is the litter, which becomes very hard due to the excretions of the chickens, and develops into an almost impenetrable breeding ground for bacteria. A regular aeration of the litter inhibits the fermentation process in soil and dramatically reduces the level of ammonia in the barns. This way, the outbreak of aspergillosis, pododermatitis, hock and breast injuries can be prevented. Our robot turns and ventilates the litter and can also be equipped with a decontamination module and a scarifier at the back. It helps to increase animal welfare and help agri-food professionals prevent risk and treat contaminations. The technology for our robots is similar to the concept of autonomous vehicles, which makes it very complex. I am really proud of what we have achieved and see a lot of potential for our robots.
European Business: Is the Octopus Poultry Safe your only product?
Olivier Somville: No, we have a range of various robots such as our Octopus Basics for a variety of uses, from heavy load transport to monitoring, or the Octopus Biosafety robot, which is used for the decontamination of equipment and large volume buildings such as warehouses and food factories, airport terminals or shopping malls. However, we have become experts in the combination of robotics and disinfection. Everything is based on a good idea and we combine it with the knowledge to develop really complex robots.