Data the Robot Comedian and his Comely Creator (Video)

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A couple days ago I blogged a photo of Data The Robot doing stand-up comedy routines at the Lincoln Center. Data's owner/operator/muse is non-other than Heather Knight, a.k.a. "Marilyn Monrobot". Heather modestly describes herself as a "Social Roboticist" but her talents go way beyond that humble title. She's pursuing her doctoral research at CMU in Pittsburgh, doing applications design with Aldebaran Robotics, creating interactive installations, while somehow finding the time to put on engaging and entertaining robot and technology gigs that artfully combine traditionally cold/sharp/hard technology with soft/feeling/emotional art and creativity.

Check out Data The Robot, and Heather, in the video below recorded live at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City earlier this summer.

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NAO Robot In Training As Personal Assistant (Video)

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While some robot developers are striving to create humanoid soccer players that will outperform their carbon based inventors, or are trying to bring their childhood robot heros, like Gundam, to life, Carl Clement in the UK is taking a much more pragmatic and perhaps humanistic/social approach. He's enrolled his NAO robot in a training regimen to become his personal secretary and assistant.

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Teaching The NAO Robot Japanese Calligraphy (Video)

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A little over a week ago we had the opportunity to sit in as a member of the Robot Japan team preparing for the August robot performance competition. One of the centerpiece exhibits will be the NAO robot drawing traditional Japanese kanji calligraphy - known as "Shado". This was the first attempt, so there were a few false steps and mistakes, but those are to be expected.

Over the course of the afternoon, and with everyone's help and support, NAO was able to draw the correct kanji with quite a bit of style and enthusiasum. The high points of the afternoon are in the video below.

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Robot Film Festival Videos Available OnLine (Video)

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Much to our regret, we weren't able to make it to the States to attend the recent Robot Film Festival in person. Thankfully, the organizers were kind enough to post all of the festival films on Vimeo, so we've been amused, entertained, surprised, and delighted by their creativity and production quality. We had expected something akin to home movies, or the typical YouTube video, but quite a few of the Robot Film Festival entries turned out to be extremely well executed and professional.

A great example is "Nao 1337 Audition" created by Carlos Asmat. The film features an out of work actor (played by Nao) auditioning for a film role. In typical 'type-casting' fashion, he shows off his acting chops with excellent renditions of the Terminator, Johnny 5, R2D2, and others. Did he impress the casting director? We're not sure. But he definitely impressed us.

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RoboCup Standard Platform Complex Rulebook (Video)

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Several readers have asked about the NAO robot teams competing at RoboCup 2011, so we decided to try and put the situation in perspective, and take a look at the rulebook, which turned out to be much more complex than we had imagined.

The RoboCup Standard Platform category was originally designed to be exactly that - a "standard platform". The concept was to create a uniform playing environment where all the teams used the same robots, the same restrictions, and the same advantages. At the same time they would have a free hand to experiment and innovate with the software, AI, and algorithms in order to coax the best performance out of their robots and win the match.

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Teaching The NAO Robot Japanese Calligraphy

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We spent a wonderful, and learning packed, afternoon with the Robot Japan team in Tokyo figuring out how to teach the Aldebaran NAO humanoid robot to draw Japanese kanji characters in the traditional calligraphy style called "Shodo". It may look simple, but take it from me, drawing the characters correctly, in the right stroke order, and with the proper energy and spirit can be a real challenge, even for a human.

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Aldebaran Robotics Gives NAO a New Brain, And Much More

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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.

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