With the Aibo being retired in 2009 from RoboCup Soccer tournaments, the official replacement is Aldebaran Robotics’ NAO humanoid. Decked out in team colors, it looks ready for the football pitch, but there’s lingering questions about how well it actually performs. It appears to have nowhere near the speed or reflexes seen in some of the custom robots built for the Humanoid League, such as Team Osaka’s VisiON series.
Standing 56cm tall, and weighing 4.5kg, NAO has 25 DOF – more than even the most well equipped commercially available kits. It has speech recognition and synthesis abilities, and for vision purposes the head houses a CMOS video camera, which like the Aibo will allow some degree of computer vision. This makes it one of the most advanced robots available on the commercial market.
The NAO is priced at €10,000 (euros) for universities. Eventually, mass production and a reduction in functionality will bring the price down to around €4,000 ($6,290 USD) for the public.
As the first humanoid to come out of France, and from a fledgling company, its success largely depends on the backing of the RoboCup organization. Universities around the world will buy up the first units so that all teams have a standard model to work from. Unfortunately, as it appears less capable than the robots that have dominated the Humanoid League up to this point, the NAO probably wasn’t the best choice for standard platform. If there was any justice in the world, Vstone / Team Osaka’s VisiON robots would have been selected instead.