Nao is the time for robolution: humanoid robot creates a buzz at Innorobo 2014 | Video
The New Economy travels to the 2014 Innorobo conference in France to meet Nao: a humanoid robot capable of emulating human behaviour and expressing emotionsShow transcript
When it comes to technological innovation, two foot tall humanoid robot Nao is hot property. The New Economy travelled to the 2014 Innorobo conference in France to find out about the robot that sings, speaks eight difference languages, and can even recognise faces
Marine Fabre: Nao? Nao! Nao. Nao?
Nao: Je peux faire quelque chose pour toi.
Marine Fabre: Parler anglais! Ah – I think he’s decided to dance for you. And not to switch to English.
The New Economy: Meet Nao: an autonomous, programmable humanoid robot, capable of emulating human behaviour and expressing emotions.
Nao: Hello. My name is Nao. I’m a humanoid robot, imagined and manufactured by Aldebaran Robotics. I come with a software and I’m fully programmable.
I’m autonomous and I can connect to the internet through WiFi. I can recognise your face, answer your questions, play music, grab objects, and even play soccer like a pro.
The New Economy: At almost two foot tall, Nao acts, moves and interacts like a mini human.
Marine Fabre: What does he do? I prefer to say who he is, because he’s not a functional robot, he’s kind of an emotional robot. We would like him to be a companion at home in the near future. To be like a new pet, a new kind of pet for you at home, for your family. And be sympathetic with you, be nice, make you laugh, something like that.
Currently for the moment, this robot is used in education, for academic purposes. For higher education, secondary education, and now even primary education.
He can do everything, it’s just a matter of imagination, because you have to program it.
The New Economy: Nao uses four microphones to track sounds, and his voice recognition and text-to-speech capabilities allow him to communicate in eight languages. He also has two cameras, and can track, learn, and recognise images and faces.
Marine Fabre: There is a lot of noise here, so he gets more and more, you know? He’s breathing more and more rapidly, and he’s quite excited, because you know he hears a lot of sounds coming from everywhere. So he’s becoming like, a little stressed. And you can see in his body language. And if you touch him on these tactile sensors he can detect it, detect you are touching him. It’s what we call his ultimate life. We want him to be all the time alive, and not a puppet. So he’s breathing, he has his own behaviour, he has his own life.
The New Economy: Nao has been in development since 2005, and is constantly evolving. Developers believe he represents the future.
Marine Fabre: It’s like computers in the 70s. We are at the same level of development, I mean in the 70s we created computers and we didn’t know exactly why, and what they would do. But now we are always using computers, and 20 or 30 years ago we had pioneer people who created advanced uses for computers. I think it’s now the same for robotics and humanoid robots. Right now we have a community of 300 people developing hubs, developing content, developing dialogue for the robot. Because they want to imagine the future of humanoid robots, and imagine what they can do at home.
The New Economy: Nao has already made quite a name for himself. From 2008, he competed in the Robocup Standard Platform League, an international robot football competition. He also made headlines doing a synchronised dance routine at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.
However developers believe the key to his popularity and human acceptance is his very own simulated humanity.
Marine Fabre: We think that the humanoid shape is very important for acceptance, because we are used to interacting with humanoid shapes. You, me, everyone; from the beginning of humanity it’s the ultimate interface, the human interface.
We think that thanks to his humanoid form and shape, we have a positive effect for him. We have a positive emotion for him, that allows us to accept him at home, or in our life.
The New Economy: With his acutely lifelike movements and mannerisms, it raises the question: how far are robots from developing their own thought process, and eventually acting on that thought process?
Marine Fabre: There are a lot of science fiction movies that give us lots of ideas, we have in our imagination a lot of stuff like that, that humanoid robots will control everything, control humanity. I think we are very far far away from that! At Aldebaran we have a strong vision that humanoid robots should be kind, they should be kind robots, you know? They should be here to help people, here to help humankind.
The New Economy: A hefty price tag of about $10,000 is however the one thing standing in the way of a robot like Nao being part of every household in the near future. But, as technology develops, he price tag is expected to lower, and Nao will be ready for the consumer market.
Nao: I guess that’s enough for the moment. Thank you for listening to me.