Aldebaran Robotics is proud to announce that their humanoid robot NAO has been adopted by more than 200 learning institutions around the world. That’s certainly impressive, but we’re more excited to see what all those students do with their new robotic pals. I can’t help but compare the NAO to its latest and most serious competitor, the DARwIn-OP (co-developed by Virginia Tech and Robotis), which also happens to be thousands of dollars cheaper.
You won’t see the NAO move quite like that (at least not with its current servos), but for now it looks like Aldebaran Robotics will enjoy a strong head start and a competitive edge thanks to its user-friendly software, not to mention its official RoboCup support. The sooner Robotis can grow an online community for both academia and hackers, the better. They need to leverage the open source nature of the project by having students at Virginia Tech and its partner universities working on alternative modules, such as compatible sensor heads and perhaps even Crafthouse-like hands. Files for 3D-printable parts could then be shared with the broader community.