Nao (pronounced now) is an autonomous, programmable humanoid robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French startup company headquartered in Paris. The robot's development began with the launch of Project Nao in 2004. On 15 August 2007, Nao replaced Sony's robot dog Aibo as the robot used in the Robot Soccer World Cup (Robocup) Standard Platform League (SPL), an international robotics competition. The Nao was used in RoboCup 2008 and 2009, and the NaoV3R was chosen as the platform for the SPL at RoboCup 2010.
The Nao Academics Edition was developed for universities and laboratories for research and education purposes, and was made publicly available by 2011. In October 2010, the University of Tokyo purchased 30 Nao robots for their Nakamura Lab, with hopes of developing the robots into active lab assistants. Since 2011, the robot has entered use in numerous academic institutions worldwide, including India's IIT Kanpur.
In the summer of 2010, Nao made global headlines with a synchronized dance routine at the Shanghai Expo in China. In December 2010, a Nao robot was demonstrated doing a stand-up comedy routine, and a new version of the robot was released, featuring sculpted arms and improved motors. In December 2011, Aldebaran Robotics released the Nao Next Gen, featuring enhanced software, a more powerful CPU and HD cameras.
Six prototypes of Nao were designed between 2005 and 2007. In March 2008, the first production version of the robot, the Nao Robocup Edition, was released to the contestants of that year's Robocup. The Nao Academics Edition was released to universities, education institutes and research laboratories late 2008. In May 2011, Aldebaran announced that it would release Nao's controlling source code to the public as open source software. In June 2011, Aldebaran raised US$13 million in a round of venture funding led by Intel Capital.
In December 2011, Aldebaran launched the Nao Next Gen, featuring hardware and software enhancements such as HD cameras, improved robustness, anti-collision systems and a faster walking speed. Since 2011, over 200 academic institutions worldwide have made use of the robot. In 2012, donated Nao robots were used to teach autistic children in a UK school; some of the children found the child-like, expressive robots more relatable than human beings.
The various versions of the Nao robotics platform feature either 14, 21 or 25 degrees of freedom (DoF). A specialised model with 21 DoF and no actuated hands was created for the Robocup competition. All Nao Academics versions feature an inertial measurement unit with accelerometer, gyrometer and four ultrasonic sensors that provide Nao with stability and positioning within space. The legged versions included eight force-sensing resistors and two bumpers.
The Nao robot also features an onboard Linux-powered multimedia system, including four microphones (for voice recognition and sound localization), two speakers (for text-to-speech synthesis) and two HD cameras (for computer vision, including facial and shape recognition). The robot comes with a software suite that includes a graphical programming tool ("Choregraphe"), simulation software and a software developer's kit. Nao is also compatible with the Microsoft Robotics Studio, Cyberbotics Webots, and the Gostai Urbi Studio.
|Nao Next Gen (2011)|
|Height||58 centimetres (23 in)|
|Weight||4.3 kilograms (9.5 lb)|
|Autonomy||60 minutes (active use), 90 minutes (normal use)|
|Degrees of freedom||21 to 25|
|CPU||Intel Atom @ 1.6GHz|
|Compatible OS||Windows, Mac OS, Linux|
|Programming languages||C++, Python, Java, MATLAB, Urbi, C, .Net|
|Vision||Two HD 1280x960 cameras|
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- "Aldebaran Robotics announces Nao Next Gen humanoid robot". Engadget. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
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- "Nao, le robot que les universités s'arrachent" (in French). MediaEtudiant.fr. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Robots in the classroom help autistic children learn". BBC. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
- "NAO NEXT Gen H25 Datasheet". Aldebaran Robotics. December 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
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