The Nao robots are known as social robots because they look and express themselves in a way that makes people feel comfortable. First, their design and shape looks like a human. Their look is so cute that people of all ages are drawn to them. Next, they are able to interact using emotion through body language, speech, and the LED’s in their eyes. Their expressions can almost seem real. They can walk, talk, play games, dance, and loads of other things guaranteed to make you smile.
The robots are Nao robots. The word Nao, pronounced like the English word ‘now’, is actually a Chinese word that means ‘brain’, and they are a brain of sorts in that they can perform autonomously with a simulated intelligence. The robots were developed by Aldebaran Soft Bank Group in Paris.
There are about 7000 Nao robots today. These are being used primarily at research facilities, universities, and schools around the world. Some of their most interesting applications are being performed at the college level. The University of Miami is currently researching using these robots to teach children skills like programming, nutrition, and fitness. They also involved in some impressive projects working with autistic children.
Their work is not limited to children. In fact these robots are used in a variety of applications. One of my personal favorites is a study where the robots help patients who have extended stays in a hospital. The purpose is to help these patients feel less socially isolated. This interesting project is happening in London at Chelsea Hospital in Westminster. The project is a collaboration between the hospital and Imperial College in London. They are studying how patients respond to the robots. For instance, a young person may be able to hear the robot better than an older patient. Based on their findings, researchers and medical staff are making improvements in the program to hopefully enrich the lives of their patients.
There are other functions for the robots outside of education and research. Companies are employing them as sales representatives. The robot can explain a company product all day long, tirelessly. Wherever the robots are seen, they tend to draw attention to themselves. They interest people and make people smile.
You may be wondering, how do these robots actually work. Check out this post for more info: Features of the Nao robot