Alderaban Robotics reveals NAO Next Gen robot
Although it was originally released in 2005 as a robot meant for entertainment, the first time we wrote about little robot NAO was in 2009 in our article about 2009 RoboCup. Aldebaran Robotics recently surprised us and released a new and improved version of the NAO robot they dubbed NAO Next Gen. NAO Next Gen is a fully programmable humanoid robot intended for research, teaching, and exploring new areas of service robotics.
“The inception of this new generation of NAO robots means a lot to our company. We are proud to be in a position to provide our customers with endless options, whatever their sector. With NAO Next Gen coming of age, we shall be able to make it serve organizations that care for autistic children and those losing their autonomy. I created Alderaban Robotics in 2005 with this aim: to contribute to humankind’s well-being”, said Bruno Maisonnier, Founder and Chairman of Aldebaran Robotics.
At the first look, the robot looks the same – its design is the same, it is 58 cm (22.8 inches) tall, and it weights 5 kg (11 pounds). Its body has 25 degrees of freedom (DOF) ensured by electric motors and actuators, and its 27.6-watt-hour battery enables it to operate for 1.5 or more hours of autonomy.
However, after six years of research and dialogue with robotics community of researchers and users, NAO Next Gen possesses higher level of interaction, improved stability and higher accuracy. But those aren’t the only changes new NAO had.
Aside the second CPU located in the robot’s torso, NAO Next Gen robot is equipped with a new on-board computer, based on the 1.6GHz Intel AtomTM processor which is suitable for multi-tasking calculations which enable the robot to remain stable while it moves and reacts faster compared to previous version.
It also has two 920p HD cameras that are attached to a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). The first camera is used for peripheral vision and it is located on NAO’s forehead, while the second camera scans the immediate surroundings and it is located at mouth level. A set of algorithms enable the robot to detect and recognize faces and shapes.
NAO Next Gen uses four microphones to track sounds, and its voice recognition and text-to-speech capabilities allow it to communicate in 8 languages. It has faster and more reliable vocal-recognition algorithm called Nuance, which is coupled with a new functionality known as “word spotting”. It enables the robot to isolate and recognize a specific word within a sentence or a conversation.
“On top of this new hardware version, we shall be delivering new software functionalities like smart torque control, a system to prevent limb/body collisions, an improved walking algorithm, and more”, said Maisonnier. “We are also pursuing our goal to provide a NAO intended for individuals through the Developer Program — a community of programmers who are working with us today to invent tomorrow’s personal robotics.”