Dancing with the Stars


(T) At the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris last year, Spanish Choregrapher Blanca Li explored with poetry the relationships between humans and robots. In her show Robots!, the robot character is played by Nao, the programmable humanoid Robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, based in Paris.

On Wednesday in Mountain View, I attended a talk about developing applications for Nao given by Aldebaran’s Software Engineer Laurent Lec at the Silicon Valley Java User Group, and I was impressed by what I saw, to say the least!

Nao’s brain is an Intel Atom of 1.6 GHz with 1 Gb of RAM and 8 Gb of Flash. Nao’s operating system software is proprietary to Aldebaran, and has been developed in C++ over a Linux kernel. Nao is capable of complex movements, controlled by coreless motors, with 25 degrees of freedom. Nao can sense with 2 HD cameras, 4 microphones, 8 force sensing resistors, inertial center, two bumpers, and two sonars. And Nao can interact with two loudspeakers, multiples LEDs, tactile sensors, prehensile hands, infrared sensors, and WiFI connexion.


Nao’s software architecture is very modular with services – e.g. Nao’s body functions – used by applications – e.g. Nao’s programmable actions and tasks.


Nao applications are developed using Aldebaran’s Choregraphe development environment. Choregraphe is a “drag and drop” tool. You can drag Nao functions (called modules) and drop them into a sequence of actions and tasks. Those functions can be edited in Python. Extremely nice tool that can be used by non-professional programmers.


The Nao modules are part of the NAOqi Framework which provides all the APIs to program Nao. NAOqi is cross-platform (Linux, Mac, Windows) and cross-language mainly C++/Python with new extensions to other languages such as Java (for more on that read: What is NAOqi Framework?)

Nao costs between 7,000 and 8,000 euros.

Bruno Maisonnier, the founder of Aldebarian Robitics, believes that the era of personal robots is approaching. Nao is the first step in his vision. There are worldwide 4,000 Nao, 6,000 users of Nao, and over 900 labs working with Nao. And, Nao will have soon a taller brother Romeo.

Bruno Maisonnier’s demo of Nao:


Nao playing Charades:


Nao dancing on the music of Daft Punk’s Around the World:


Nao performing Star Wars:



Note: The picture above is Nao.

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Categories: Robotics