10/12/09 Meet Nao, the robot

October 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm 2 comments

Would you like a chance to meet a little humanoid, named Nao?  Nao stands 23 inches tall, and has some ability to “see” things, to “hear” things, and to speak. Most people also think Nao is cute, which is probably something the manufacturer is counting on.

ISU MAT 120 students have a chance to meet Nao in person, here on campus, next Monday afternoon, because Nao is coming to visit as part of a demonstration tour put on by Aldebaran Robotics, the makers of Nao.

Nao is a pretty amazing little robot. Inside, Nao’s “brain” is a computer that can be programmed so that Nao can act more or less on his own to carry out various tasks. So, Nao is not like a radio-controlled toy that has to be controlled second-by-second. Nao operates much more on its own, sensing the environment and altering its behavior accordingly. Check out this video of Nao in action:

The development of robots is serious business these days. There are many kinds of industrial robots already in use, such as those in the local Mitsubishi auto plant where the Eclipse and Galant are made. Police departments are beginning to use robots to enter dangerous buildings. Future uses for all sorts of robots are limited only by our ability to design them.

Maybe you yourself could find an exciting career path in robot development/maintenance if you were to study computer science here at ISU. Robots can’t do much without some pretty amazing computer power to guide them.

If you’d like to meet Nao and one of its creators, come by CVA 151 at 4:30 or so next Monday, October 19. The session next Monday is being put on by the manufacturer to get people excited about Nao, but it still should be fun. You probably aren’t going to buy one anyway, since they cost $12,000 each.

Extra credit for MAT 120 students who attend will work like it does for the after-class sessions with IT professionals. The Nao demo session may last longer than an hour, and you’re welcome to stay for the whole thing, but if you can only stay for the first hour, you could leave (and, yes, you still get credit if you turn in the evaluation form).  I’m planning to attend myself, and I hope to see you there.

Kenton Machina


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ben Hutchinson  |  October 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    What did you have to do or who did you contact to get the robot to visit ISU?

    • 2. Kenton Machina  |  October 28, 2009 at 3:51 pm

      The manufacturer called to inquire about our interest in Nao, because we have had an ongoing project at Illinois State involving undergraduates in artificial intelligence research. I’d suggest contacting the manufacturer about the possibility of campus visits elsewhere, since Nao is being worked on by many students at many institutions.


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