Aldebaran Robotics, the creators of the well known NAO humanoid robot, obviously have a strong commitment to advancing the state of the art in robotics technology and applications. During the RoboCup 2011 competition in Instanbul they unveiled the 4th generation NAO loaded with new enhancements, improved performance, and features requested and suggested by their rapidly growing user base in leading educational, academic, and research facilities from all over the world.
While the external appearance of NAO V4 may not have changed in obvious ways (don't worry, NAO still has the cute, lovable, boyish character that's made him so popular), the changes under the hood are really impressive and will make it much easier and attractive to users developing robotic applications as well as researchers.
The NAO V4 version isn't scheduled to ship until Fall 2011, though it is available for pre-order now, so we don't have firm test results or user feedback yet. Based on information directly from Aldebaran, the improvements and enhancements that users can look forward to include:
- New embedded 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor - more onboard processing, allowing developers to move a significant portion of their application to NAO making it much more autonomous
- Onboard Bluetooth - it's a little surprising to realize that earlier NAO versions didn't have embedded Bluetooth built-in.
- New Vision system - completely redesigned with new dual HD cameras and a dedicated video processor so that both cameras can be used simultaneously.
- New voice recognition algorithm - working with Nuance, Aldebaran has been able to give NAO V4 faster and more accurate voice recognition as well as new word spotting and isolation capability.
- Smart stiffness control - improves NAO's reliability and durability
- Anti-self-collision system - sounds puzzling... Did older NAO versions run into themselves often? I'm sure there will be further clarification on this feature coming from Aldebaran soon.
- Improved walk algorithm - enables faster walking as well as making it easier to customize the robots walking motion.
- NAO resource manager
I was hoping to hear more about the company's plans to open-source part of the NAO platform code, but apparently the company isn't ready to share the details quite yet. I'll keep you advised as more information becomes available.
Here's the full press release from Aldebaran Robotics:
ALDEBARAN Robotics – Press Release
Launch of the new generation of NAO, the best-selling humanoid robot worldwide.
ALDEBARAN Robotics announces the launch of the new V4 generation of its NAO robot, equipped with an Intel® Atom™ microprocessor.
(Paris, France – July 19th, 2011) Three years after the first NAO was sold, and now with over 1500 units worldwide, ALDEBARAN Robotics is proud to introduce the newest generation of its fully programmable humanoid robot, designed for the specific needs of the research and education communities.
Announced on the 7th of July, at the RoboCup in Istanbul, this new generation offers a whole host of major evolutions, responding to the specific needs of its user community. An all-new embedded computer featuring the state-of-the-art 1.6 GHz Intel® Atom™ chip vastly increases the scope for onboard robotic data processing, while an onboard Bluetooth chip finally allows NAO to communicate over a wireless serial interface to external sensors and devices. The vision system has also been redesigned from the ground up, with a pair of new HD cameras and a new dedicated video processor allowing both to be used simultaneously.
In parallel with hardware improvements, NAO V4 features a new voice recognition algorithm, developed by Nuance; faster and more reliable, it also incorporates word-spotting capacities, allowing NAO isolate and recognize a defined word in a sentence or in a conversation.
“For this new generation of NAO robots, we have really rethought the entire architecture, to deliver a product even more robust, versatile and powerful, to meet the needs of our very demanding customers from laboratories and universities,” comments Bruno Maisonnier, CEO and Founder of ALDEBARAN Robotics, the world-leading company in humanoid robotics. “Jointly with this new hardware version, we will also deliver numerous new software features: a smart stiffness control, to reduce further overheating risks, an anti-self-collision system, an improved walk algorithm - faster and easier to customize - as well as a NAO resource manager. And, in response to the demands of our user community, we will very soon open-source a significant part of the NAO platform’s code.”
Available now for preorder, the first NAO V4 will be delivered in fall 2011.
About ALDEBARAN Robotics : Founded in 2005 by Bruno Maisonnier, and with offices in France, China, Japan and the United States, ALDEBARAN Robotics designs, produces and commercializes autonomous humanoid robots with the aim of contributing to the well-being of humans. Today, over 1500 NAOs are utilized throughout the world as research and educational platforms in 35 countries. ALDEBARAN Robotics brings together more than 130 people - including 50 engineers and PhDs - that are involved in the development and production of the robot. Forfurther information, visit www.aldebaran-robotics.com/en
About the RoboCup : RoboCup is an international scientific initiative with the goal to advance the state of the art of intelligent robots. When established in 1997, the original mission was to field a team of robots capable of winning against the human soccer World Cup champions by 2050. While that mission remains, RoboCup has since expanded into other relevant application domains based on the needs of modern society. Learn more at www.robocup.org
Press Contact : Bastien Parent – email@example.com – 0034 656 767 446