August 14, 2007: The NAO humanoid robot, developed by Aldebaran Robotics, has been officially selected to replace AIBO in RoboCup competitions. According to the RoboCup Standard Platform League website, the league, which was previously known as the "Four-Legged League" has been renamed to the "Standard Platform League", and NAO has been selected as the new standard platform for competitions.
"Currently, there exist a number of different RoboCup soccer leagues that focus on different aspects of this challenge. The Standard Platform League is one of them. In the league all teams use identical robots. Therefore the teams concentrate on software development only, while still using state-of-the-art robots. The robots operate fully autonomously, i.e. there is no external control, neither by humans nor by computers. This year, the league goes through a transition from the four-legged Sony AIBO to the humanoid Aldebaran Nao."
This is a tremendous vote of confidence for the NAO robot design, and for Aldebaran itself. The company, which is still very much in start-up mode, has yet to ship its first robot. Supporting the needs, and demands, of the RoboCup teams participating in this league worldwide will be a significant challenge, but should also provide significant benefits. The feedback, and field use information that will pour into Aldebaran as the RoboCup teams gear up, will prove to be invaluable and should give them a strong leg up over the competition in this class of humanoid robots.