Poppy opensource robotic platform

Hardware and software tools

The Poppy ecosystem is based on modular, 3D-printed, software-printed, and software-based bricks that allow robots to be built in many different shapes at low cost. There are basic three Poppy robots whose kits are widely used: the Humanoid Robot Poppy Humanoid, the Poppy Torso robot, and the educational robot Poppy Ergo Jr. A multitude of other forms are possible.

The Poppy Platform is a new modular, open-source robotic architecture designed to help users create and build custom robots. it allows, in a Lego-like approach, to build robots or intelligent objects using standardized elements.

Poppy uses a unified system in which essential robotic components (actuators, sensors, etc.) are independent modules connected by standardized interfaces:

– Unified mechanical interfaces, simplifying the assembly process and design of 3D printable parts.

– Unified communication between elements using the same connector and bus for each module.

– Unified software, facilitating independent programming of each module.

The platform’s basic robots:

– Poppy Humanoid is a robust and comprehensive robotic platform designed for real-world experiences and can be tailored to the specific needs of users.

– Poppy Torso is a variant of Poppy Humanoid that can be installed easily on a table. More affordable than the Poppy Humanoid robot, it’s an ideal medium for learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

– Ergo Jr is a robotic arm designed as part of the Poppy Education project (see Part 2). Durable and inexpensive, it is perfect for use in class. It can be programmed in Snap! or Python, directly from a web browser, using Ipython notebooks (an interactive space in a web interface for Python programming language).


– Snap. The Snap visual programming system, a variant of MIT Medialab’s Scratch software. Its features allow an accessible and comprehensive introduction to information technology. Several specific “blocks” have been developed for this purpose

– C, Java, Matlab, Ruby, Javascript, etc. thanks to a REST API that allows you to send commands and receive information from the robot with simple HTTP queries.

The simulators:

– Poppy robots can be simulated with the free V-REP simulator (see Figure 35). It is possible to work in class on the simulated model and then allow students to run their program on the physical robot.

– Poppy Ergo is also simulated with a 3D web viewer.

Poppy has gained national and international popularity (presentation to the President of the French Republic, the National Assembly and the Senate, as well as by the major daily newspapers of the press – Le Monde, Les Echos, Libération, …), selected to represent European technologies by the European Commission at the big event AAAS 2015 in San Jose, USA.

The project was highlighted in the report “National Research Strategy France 2020” of the Ministry of Education and Research.

Learn more: http://www.poppy-project.org/fr/
Software and hardware sources and plans are available on https://github.com/poppy-project

The uses of the Poppy platform

In the scientific field.

The Poppy Humanoide and Poppy Torso robots are the world’s first open-source, 3D-based humanoid robotics platforms to rapidly explore morphological variants in the fields of Human-Robot interaction and motor control. Also to develop and study new forms of robotic prostheses or to experiment with devices using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

On the left: a Poppy Torso robot (the learning agent) climbed in front of two joysticks.

On the Right: Complete configuration: a Poppy Ergo robot (seen as a robotic toy) is controlled by the right joystick and can hit a tennis ball in the arena that then changes lights and sounds.

Platform of 6 robots with an identical environment: joysticks, Poppy Ergo, ball in an arena, and a distractor. The central bar supports the top 12 cameras.

In the arts


Thanks to its morphology that provides degrees of freedom that very few other humanoid robots possess, and thanks to visual programming tools for non-computers, the humanoid platform Poppy has become a major tool of work for several dance companies that perform shows with the robot in several countries.

In the field of education

The Poppy robotic platform has shown such qualities for education, especially for the teaching of digital sciences (computer science, robotics, AI) that a dedicated project has emerged, Poppy Education (cf part 2.), funded by Inria, the New Aquitaine region and the European funds FEDER.

The Poppy Community

The Poppy community is home to more than 1,200 people (https://forum.poppy-project.org/ and the Poppy Youtube channel shows many achievements of members of this community (https://www.youtube.com/c/PoppyProjectOrgVideosDu).

On the Arts side, several artists’ groups use the platform for large-scale projects and performances, such as http://shonen.info/schoolofmoon/. See also: https://forum.poppy-project.org/c/art .

The community grew thanks to the Poppy Education project, which drew many teachers to Poppy forums.

Poppy Education

The Poppy Education Project

Poppy Education, funded by Inria, the New Aquitaine region and European funds FEDER.

Using the Poppy robotic platform, the Poppy Education project aims to create, evaluate and disseminate comprehensive, open-source and low-cost educational kits for teaching computer science and robotics in secondary and higher education, science culture centres and Fablabs. Its ambition is to help young people take ownership of the concepts and technologies of the digital world.

The kits developed as part of the project were designed to be motivating, accessible to beginners, allowing to initiate computer thinking and trigger vocations in the field of digital creation and more generally of computer science. They include robots and teaching resources and have been co-created with teachers and evaluated in classroom sessions.

Poppy Education has created a new robot, Poppy Ergo jr, significantly improved the functionality of existing robots, developed new educational activities and brought out ambitious robotic projects by teachers and their classrooms.

Hundreds of robotic educational kits, Poppy Ergo Jr arm and associated educational activities, are currently in schools, mainly on loan for robots. A dozen teacher trainings accompanied this broadcast.

Testimonials: https://www.poppy-education.org/communaute/temoignages/

Video reports: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdX8RO6QsgB4tWZLeXeszNnCMjzwqSRLd

The poppy Ergo jr robot

The Poppy Ergo Jr robot is a small robotic arm with 6 degrees of freedom at low cost. It consists of simple shapes that can be easily printed in 3D. It has several 3D-printed tools to expand its capabilities: there are currently the lampshade, the pliers and a pencil/brush holder and it is well possible to design new ones. They are assembled using rivets that can be removed and added very quickly with the OLLO tool. Each engine has leDs on (8 different colors can be activated). The electronic card (Raspberry Pi) is next to the robot, which allows additional sensors to be plugged in.

Example of robot programming reproducing a drawn form

Poppy Ergo Jr Simulator: The goal is to allow users to take ownership of the robot’s environment even if they don’t have a physical robot. To this end, the Poppy Education team has created a dummy robot that can be accessed in a web application using a 3D engine.

Poppy Education Activities

The activities were designed for snap! (Scratch type) and Python, but some projects were built in Java / Processing (thanks to the robot’s API, it is possible to use the language of its choice).

Most activities use the Poppy Ergo Jr robot, but some rely on the Poppy Torso robot, especially in higher education, and sometimes even poppy Humanoid (in kindergarten and elementary school for dance projects).

Thanks to the project, the open source educational booklet “Learning to Program Poppy Ergo Jr in Snap” was created, printed and distributed free of charge to several hundred copies.

Composed of guided educational activities to familiarize yourself with the Poppy Ergo Jr robot, to learn snap programming language! and to learn the basics of programming (sequential programming, loops, conditions, variables, etc.), with also ideas of challenges and projects to apply the newly created knowledge, it is a much appreciated medium by teachers and their students. https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01384649/document

Other activities have been created and educational projects have been written for each activity carried out and tested in the classroom. Each project has its own web page with resources to enable any teacher to carry out the activity (description, instructional sheet, photos/videos, student sheet, teacher sheet with correction, etc.). There are now 32 documented activities available on the https://www.poppy-education.org/activites/activites-lycee website, and on the project forum where everyone is invited to comment and create new ones: https://forum.poppy-project.org/t/liste-dactivites-pedagogiques-avec-les-robots-poppy

Experimentation and research in Poppy Education

Poppy Education incorporated a research and evaluation dimension. This was reinforced by the arrival of the Perseverons project as part of a programme carried out by the French government.

Poppy Education and the Perseverons Project

The Persevérons (study of perseverance with/by digital objects) project, coordinated by the University of Bordeaux, the ESPE d’Aquitaine and the Rectorate of Bordeaux, aims to measure the real effectiveness of digital techniques in education to improve motivation and school perseverance and thus reduce academic failure. The project proposes to analyze the real effects of the use of two types of objects, robots, tablets, comparing the school context (schools, colleges, high schools) and non-school (fablabs). Poppy Education took the opportunity to have a doctoral thesis funded by this project funded by the French state as part of the Future Investment Programmes. The thesis, led by Thibault Desprez, ends in December 2019.

The site of the project: http://perseverons.espe-aquitaine.fr.


Thanks to Poppy Education, everything was in place to design and experiment with robots and educational activities in the classroom. Robots were designed with end-users in mind, educational tools created directly with users and evaluated in real-life situations through experimentation. Teachers and researchers co-created the activities, tested them with students in the classroom, shared their experience and carried out the necessary technological developments.

By mid-2018, there were 36 schools (mainly high schools) involved in the experiment.

Classroom experiments in the first year (2017) have not been able to create and experiment with many robotic activities. These activities are designed as educational resources introducing robotics. The main objective of the second year (2018) was to make all reusable activities and resources (with description, documentation and illustration) easy and accessible while continuing the experiments and dissemination of robotic kits.

Perseverons’ partner teachers continued to use robots in the classroom and to create and test new activities in the classroom. New training courses have been organized to introduce them to and use the robotic platform. Classroom visits by Poppy Education members to schools were held to evaluate educational tools, robots and activities in a real-world context of use.

Meetings were held throughout the year including all the teachers involved in the project as well as the entire Poppy Education team to share their experiences of using robots as an educational tool, and to understand their needs. This helps to better understand educational needs, to create and improve teaching tools.


The impact of teaching tools created in the laboratory and tested in the classroom is being evaluated by PhD student Thibault Desprez, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Friendliness, efficiency, user satisfaction, tool ergonomics, at first. Then, in a second step, identifying the elements that may be influenced by the use of these tools. For example, students’ representations of robotics, their motivation to carry out this type of activity or the evolution of their skills in these areas. In 2017, experiments were carried out to evaluate the user-friendliness of the kits. We also collected data on students’ perceptions of robotics.

Results are expected in 2019.

Some Poppy Education web links

– The project’s website to share all resources and activities: https://www.poppy-education.org/

– Introduction to Ergo Jr and Snap! https://www.poppy-education.org/activites/initiation-ergo-jr-et-snap

– Ergo Jr and Python tutorials: https://www.poppy-education.org/activites/tuto-python-robot-ergojr

– Secondary school: www.poppy-education.org/activites/activites-lycee

– College level. Www.poppy-education.org/activites/activites-college

– Primary school level: https://www.poppy-education.org/activites/activites-primaire/

– Video demonstrations: https://www.poppy-education.org/activites/demos/

– Documentation of the Poppy robotic platform in English https://docs.poppy-project.org/en/

and documentation in French https://docs.poppy-project.org/fr/.

– A FAQ written with the most common questions to help users: https://www.poppy-education.org/aide/

Partnerships around Poppy Education

– School of Arts and Crafts Engineers

The Arts and Crafts campus of Bordeaux-Talence, in partnership with Inria, wishes to contribute to its pedagogical and scientific expertise in the development of new teaching methods and tools. The aim is to develop teaching sequences based on a project approach, based on an attractive multidisciplinary technological system: the humanoid robot Inria Poppy.

The humanoid robot Inria Poppy offers an open platform capable of providing a common thread for the various topics covered during the 3 years of bachelor training: mechanics, manufacturing (3D printing), electrical, mechanical, electronic, computer, design.

– Gironde Canopy

The project “Poppy enters the dance” was conducted twice, in 2017 and 2018, and uses the humanoid robot Poppy. The aim of this project is to enable children to understand the interactions between science and choreography, to play with chance and programming, to live the movement in dialogue with the machine. At the beginning of the project, they participated in two days of training on the humanoid robot (Inria – Poppy Education). During the project, they met choreographer Eric Minh Cuong Castaing and Inria engineers who are members of Poppy Education.

A description of the project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfxXaq899kY

– Académie de Bordeaux

The Academic Delegation for Digital Education of the Bordeaux Academy is responsible for supporting the development of digital uses for pedagogy. It implements the academy’s digital educational policy in partnership with local authorities. It accompanies institutions on a daily basis, encourages innovations and participates in their dissemination.

– RoboCup Junior, the major global event around educational robotics

RoboCupJunior OnStage invites teams to develop creative stage performance using autonomous robots that they have designed, built and programmed. The goal is to create a robotic show lasting 1 to 2 minutes that uses technology to capture the public’s attention. The challenge is open. This includes a range of possible performances, such as dance, storytelling, theatre or an art installation. The show may include music, but it is optional. Teams are encouraged to be as creative, innovative and entertaining, both in robot design and overall performance design.

Poppy Education’s teams stood out by going to the finals in Montreal in 2018.


Poppy Education has participated in numerous events, scientific conferences or general public, training. Like what:

  • Didapro-Didastic Namur Symposium January 2016 and Yverdon February 2018
  • EIDO Forum 64 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Robot’s Makers Day ENSEIRB,
  • Educatec-Educatice March 2016, November 2017 and November 2018
  • Robotics and EDUCATION Days IFE Lyon May 2016 and October 2018
  • New Scientific Mediation Initiatives Forum NIMS CPU CNRS May 2016
  • Ludovia Summer University 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Innorobo Show 2017,
  • Bordeaux Robotics and Education Symposium 2015, 2016, 2017
  • World Scratch Conference 2015 and 2017
  • NIPS 2016 conference in Barcelona with an AI demo with Poppy Torso and Poppy Ergo Jr
  • Science Day 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Bordeaux Geek Festival 2017 and 2018
  • Main Pasta Training 2017 and 2018
  • Ergo Workshop at CERN 2017 and 2018
  • Poppy ergo Jr workshop at Scientae Robotica in Lausanne April 2018
  • Evian Robotics Festival 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Robocup Junior International 2018, with the participation of teams of college and high school youth in the On Stage event with Poppy Ergo and qualification for the final in Montreal
  • Etc…

Radiation and perspectives

Poppy education has become increasingly present in the education and training landscape, especially for digital science education, with the robotic arm Poppy Ergo in primary and secondary education, with Poppy Torso and Poppy Humanoid in higher education.

More than 50 high schools and colleges in France use Poppy Ergo Jr. kits. FabLabs in France and abroad use these platforms for educational projects, for example: http://inmediats.fr/tag/poppy-2/.

The dynamics of the project have been major and Poppy Education is part of today’s digital education landscape, national and international. Poppy Education is now part of a larger project called Perseverons, carried out by the University of Bordeaux, the ESPE d’Aquitaine and the Bordeaux Academy, obtained as part of E-FRAN projects of the Future Investment Programmes.

Projects have developed in Europe, the Caribbean, Europe, the United States (at MIT, Research Poppy Ergo Jr and AI for Education), …, as far as Mauritius.

CERN (Geneva, not really Europe at the time) uses Poppy Education kits as part of its micro-club, SNCF Development organises training on the Poppy platform in its Schools of Success, in the 8 Inria centres scientific mediation uses kits as part of its activities, the Pasteur Institute prepares a training of all its scientific staff with Poppy Education , the ENSAM Engineering Schools operate it in their training courses.

In order to sustain the developments and dynamics driven by Poppy Education, a new structure has been created, Poppy Station (see part 3.), integrating many partners and driven by the same vision, that of open source, accessibility to the greatest number, technological excellence and innovation.

The Poppy Station multi-partner structure

Given the scale and directions taken by the Poppy ecosystem and the Poppy Education project, Inria could not ensure the effective sustainability of these devices alone. So it was decided to create an external structure, with different partners: Poppy Station. Including everything related to the Poppy robotic platform (materials, software, educational activities, communities), this new structure aims to be a space of excellence to build future educational robots and to design educational activities to teach computer science, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Poppy Station’s website: https://www.poppystation.org

The origin

A transfer of Inria research

Poppy Station was initiated by a transfer of Inria research, its desire to sustain its open-source Poppy robotic ecosystem by entrusting it to a multi-partner external structure.

This transfer was possible because previous projects such as Poppy Education have created technologies and educational activities sufficiently accomplished to serve as a robust foundation for such deployment.

The Poppy Ecosystem and the Poppy Education Project

The Poppy ecosystem therefore includes software and hardware tools to create and program robots, as well as educational content for education and training, and a large interdisciplinary community of users. This ecosystem was created and developed by Inria’s Flowers team, with the goal of facilitating experimentation and the creation of innovative robotic tools in the fields of education, research and the arts.

In particular, several tools in this ecosystem have appeared to be particularly adapted to the needs:

– education (pedagogical robotics), in a context where digital science education is reaching large scales in classrooms. Thus, as part of the Poppy Education and Perseverons projects, several dozen high schools and colleges, and several universities, are now using the platform as an educational tool.

– rapid prototyping for robotic research and development projects.

To learn more about Poppy and Poppy education, see Parts 1 and 2 of this document.

La structure Poppy Station

A common vision

Poppy Station is an association structure, created in August 2018, that brings together major players in education, training, the economic world, research and culture around robotics and Artificial Intelligence who share a common vision:

  • Open source
  • A remarkably adapted robotic tool to teach digital science
  • Arts and sciences
  • Thinking about societal issues
  • Promoting Robotics and AI for Education, the Arts and Research, with the Poppy Robotic Ecosystem

Construction has been built around Inria’s Poppy open-source robotic ecosystem, but Poppy Station’s objectives and scopes now go beyond that.

Poppy Station members (details attached)

  • Inria (National Research Institute in Digital Sciences, Computer Science, AI, Robotics)
  • Education League (host of Poppy Station)
  • HESAM University (community of universities and institutions comprising 18 structures: ENSAM, CESI, CNAM, CNRS, École Boulle, École Duperré, École Estienne, Ecole du Louvre, ENSAAMA, ENSAPLV, ENSCI-Les Ateliers, French Fashion Institute (IFM), INED, INP, SKEMA Business School, CFJ, Fondation Nationale Entreprise and Performance (FNEP), France Clusters
  • IFÉ – ENS (French Institute of Education – Lyon Higher Normal School)
  • MOBOTS – EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  • Pollen Robotics (robotic start-up, AI)
  • KONEXInc (robotic start-up, AI, arts)
  • Generation Robots (distributor of robots for education, research, industry, research and development)
  • SNCF Development
  • Italian Cooperative Company Borgione – Stripes
  • Mobsya Association (http://www.mobsya.org/)
  • NGO Rights Tech Women (https://rightstech.org/)
  • CERN Micro-club (http://cmc.web.cern.ch/)
  • Direction CANOPE Martinique
  • LINE Laboratory University of Nice

Coming soon: Pasteur Institute

Poppy Station Goals

Sustaining the Poppy Ecosystem and Poppy Education Developments

Poppy Station now manages and develops the technologies, uses and funding of the Poppy ecosystem, as well as robotic tools and educational activities produced through the Poppy Education project.

In addition to the immediate provision of hardware and software robotic bricks as well as educational content. Thanks to the modularity of the Poppy robotic platform, the range of robots will expand to other types of robots than existing ones (humanoid, torso, robotic arm) and new activities will be developed, especially towards the introduction to artificial intelligence.

Preserving and developing open robotic ecosystems

Poppy Station aims to develop and preserve robotic ecosystems and associated open source or free technologies, in all areas where their use can enable this development and preservation, in a spirit of transparency and openness. The association pays particular attention to the areas of basic and applied research as well as education.

To be a laboratory of robotic innovation and AI of excellence.

Poppy Station sets itself the goal of promoting robotics and AI for education, the arts and research, with the desire to create and experiment with innovative devices, drawing on its members, complementary skills and notoriety, to provide a platform of excellence.

New robots and new activities are being developed, activities in particular related to the introduction to artificial intelligence.

Participate in calls for national and international projects

By fostering synergies among its members, Poppy Station enables them to fully mobilize their structure to carry out innovative projects.

How poppy station works

The board of directors is made up of half of the founding members and the rest of the members.

Any Poppy Station member can:

– freely use the hardware and software made available

– participate in thematic committees

– propose developments whose validation is submitted to the Board of Directors

– benefit from the image of Poppy Station

Any public or private structure interested in the association’s activities may join Poppy Station.

To join the association, the first step is to contact a member of the board of directors to report the application, or to complete the form of intent available on the poppystation.org website. The application will then be considered by the Board of Directors.

Poppy Station is funded through royalties from the Poppy brand robot sales, owned by Inria, which offers Poppy Station a free use license, membership dues, various grants and project participation.

Poppy resort activities

Thematic commissions

Thematic committees are open advisory committees (with at least one member of the Board referent per commission) which aim to exchange and prepare decisions to be taken by the Board.

  • Technology Commission
  • Commission R2T2
  • Education Commission – Training (pedagogical content, robotics, AI, COMPUTER science, equality, …)
  • Editorial commission (content websites, forums, newsletter, …) and communication (including events)
  • Arts and Cultures Commission

Production of robotic and educational materials

New robots designed by the technology commission and new developments for the Poppy platform, in particular a new version of the humanoid, are underway.

The Education and Training Commission has begun to create new educational activities, notably for the introduction to artificial intelligence in primary and secondary schools.

A new robot, a wheeled robot, has already been created, funded by a grant from the Education League and prototyped by Pollen Robotics.

Loan of robotic equipment

Poppy Station has about thirty Poppy Ergo Jr, two Poppy Torso and a Poppy Humanoid to lend to its members.

The maintenance of these materials is under review by the Technology Commission. It is envisaged to take out annual insurance and maintenance package and pass the cost on to borrowers, as well as transportation costs if necessary.

Events and distinctions

At the end of August 2018, Poppy Station was officially presented to the Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer at the Ludovia Summer University in Ax-Les-Thermes.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DlIGUd_U0AEkmLG.jpg https://laligue.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Poppy-Ludovia-375x250.jpg

At the end of August, Poppy Station also participated in the call for projects of the MGEN EdTech Trophies and in September 2018 won the Jury Prize, with 10,000 euros and an incubator accompaniment for one year.

In October 2018, Poppy Station was the subject of a conference at the IFÉ-ENS in Lyon.

In November 2018, Poppy Station participated in the European Education Fair and the Educatec Educatice event in November 2018.


An economic model is under review and will be finalized in December 2019.

The Poppy Station adventure is on its way!