Nao the little robot from Aldebaran Robotics is a master in the art of making a buzz. After his boat trip for the Vendée Globethere he is in a car ! After the numerous tests of the Google Car, the autonomous car without driver, here is a new dimension: the electric car driven by a robot.
Nao is this small, sophisticated humanoid robot, fully programmable, which aims to contribute to the well-being of humanity, through solutions designed to assist the person and help children with autism. Developed by the French company Aldebaran Robotics, Nao contains visual and sound recognition technologies with spatial orientation, balance and advanced movement functions, forming a flexible platform for the development of applications.
A World First
The success of the NaoCar project is the fruit of the work of Melvin Laplanche, Loïck Michard, Samuel Olivier and Gaël du Plessix, four French students in their third year at Epitech Montpellier.
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The NaoCar opens the way to another dimension of automatic vehicle driving. Other projects in this field have so far been oriented towards an automatic car. Today the hypothesis of a robot capable of driving a standard vehicle is taking shape.
"The NaoCar project is in line with current research aimed at narrowing the boundaries between man and machine. In this case, allowing Nao to drive a children's car would demonstrate its ability to interact seamlessly with objects designed for humans" explains Gaël Du Plessix, one of the four students in the NaoCar team.
"We are delighted with this collaboration with the Epitech school, the students have done a remarkable job that has resulted in a world first" says Nicolas Boudot, head of relations with higher education and research at Aldebaran Robotics, the company that manufactures the Nao robot.
Driver's license passed!
Nao is meant to reconcile man and machine. Aboard his children's car, he displays a disconcerting ease. Nao will be able to move around at the wheel of a children's car. His movements are controlled by an Xbox controller. Thanks to the two cameras located in his head, Nao can detect a red line on the ground. He can then move by following it. A Kinect connected to the Nao will detect obstacles with its radar, allowing him to go around obstacles. If Nao knows the cartography of his environment, he will be able to locate himself and move in it thanks to all his sensors.
Thanks to his front camera, Nao recovers the image of the road in front of him. His goal: to follow a red line. Then he analyzes the trajectory: from the collected data, Nao draws up an estimate of the route. He thus obtains a list of points corresponding to the path he has to follow. According to this data and to his own orientation, he is able to calculate the direction in which the line evolves. Then, Nao is able to decide which actions to take to get to his destination. If he is in a too tight turn, Nao will go backwards in order not to leave the line. Thanks to all these steps, Nao proves his ability to drive autonomously along a predefined path.
Nao will drive his NaoCar in the aisles of the TGS and will distribute Carambars, as he did at the MIG 2012, this weekend during the Toulouse Game Show (December 1st and 2nd).
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