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.
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.
’Teaching The NAO Robot Japanese Calligraphy’ continues
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.
Subscribers to ROBOT Magazine are receiving their copies of the latest issue right about now, and the store copies should be in bookstores very soon.
This particular issue, with the Kumotek KT-X humanoid robot on the cover, will prove to be quite interesting and exciting since it includes coverage of robots at the Maker Faire, animatronic dinosaurs, a how-to on programing servos, Arduino Bot Brains, a chance to win a Parallax robot, a look at the latest Kondo hexapod robot, and our detailed coverage of RoboGames 2011.
The July issue of ROBOCON Magazine hit the news stands yesterday and we were very pleased to see that it featured several articles near and dear to our hearts.
In addition to all the great, and always detailed, technical and event content that ROBOCON is known for, this issue included major articles covering RoboGames 2011, the Robot Japan First event, and Taylor Veltrop's master/slave robot control implementation using the Microsoft Kinect device.
It takes a ton of money to create, nurture, evolve, productize, and bring a successful new technology to market. All too often new ventures have fantastic ideas or great technology, but fail to grab the attention of investors with the capital that they desperately need to stay alive long enough to evolve into a viable business.
Aldebaran Robotics, the creator of the NAO humanoid robot, has achieved a lot in the past five short years. The robots performance is definitely world class in the area of robotics it was targeted for. It's already proven the potential of the company's design and vision, but it's still quite a way from being self sustaining.
However, the Aldebaran management team hasn't let that limit their long term vision and passion. Today they announced successful series C round of financing amounting to USD$13 million. It's a major vote of confidence on the part of Aldebaran's investors, as well as a significant additional responsibility for the company's leaders as they pursue making their dream a reality.