PROVEN Robotics

Contributions of NAO to Transforming Scientific Research

The fascinating tale of social robots and their potential to revolutionize human interactions is a growing area of interest for scientific research. For decades, researchers have been exploring the applications of social robots in domains like education, healthcare, industry, entertainment, and public service. These remarkable machines have the power to assist and enhance our lives in ways we never thought possible. However, the accurate measure of social robots’ success lies in their ability to create sustainable and intelligent interactions in the real world while maintaining credibility and acceptability. This has ignited a surge of research in the field of human-robot interaction, focusing on the design, development, and evaluation of these social assistive agents.

A diverse range of social robots are making significant strides in research. For instance, there’s Kaspar, a robot designed for autism therapy, offering valuable support to individuals on the spectrum. Then there’s iCub, a cognitive development robot that pushes the boundaries of human-like learning. And let’s not forget about the beloved NAO robot, which has become a familiar face in various contexts. Join us as we delve deeper into the realm of social robots, focusing on NAO, exploring its potential, advancements, and the remarkable impact it is poised to make in our society.

What is covered:

Who is NAO?

NAO robot may look like just another toy, but it is more than what meets the eye. These robots contribute significantly to the scientific research industry, with vast potential for developments in various fields. NAO robots are humanoid robots created by Softbank Robotics that have been used for multiple tasks ranging from teaching to entertainment. However, they have shown their potential for scientific advancements through their use in research.

Background of NAO

NAO robots were first introduced in 2006 and, since then, have been used increasingly by researchers as a model for various experiments. The robots are built to be fully programmable and are equipped with audiovisual and tactile sensors that mimic the human senses. NAO robots can move, communicate, and identify objects and even learn and adapt as they interact with their environment.

Contributions to the research for human-robot interactions

The perception and experiences of users with NAO can differ depending on the context and the specific user populations involved, such as children, parents, teachers, and experts. While NAO’s small size makes it primarily suitable for child-robot interaction scenarios, there are also instances where it is utilized in elderly care, albeit to a lesser extent. Interestingly, the consensus among most users is that NAO is an amiable and friendly robot. Its human-like appearance and non-judgmental characteristics are particularly well-received, earning high appreciation from those who interact with it.

NAO, as a support for effective computing research

NAO has proven to be an invaluable support for effective computing research. Affective computing focuses on developing technology that can recognize, interpret, and respond to human emotions. NAO’s human-like appearance, interactive capabilities, and advanced sensors make it an ideal platform for studying and advancing this field. One of the critical aspects of affective computing research is the ability to recognize and interpret human emotions accurately. NAO’s sophisticated sensors, including cameras, microphones, and touch sensors, enable it to perceive cues such as facial expressions, vocal intonations, and touch interactions. Researchers can leverage this rich data to train machine learning algorithms and create models to identify and classify emotions accurately.

Moreover, NAO’s interactive capabilities allow for real-time user interaction and engagement. It can engage in verbal and non-verbal communication, making it an ideal platform for conducting experiments and gathering data on human-robot interaction. Researchers can gain valuable insights into how affective computing systems can effectively communicate and respond to human emotions by studying how people react to NAO’s expressions, gestures, and voices.

Furthermore, NAO’s versatility and programmability enable researchers to design and implement a wide range of effective computing applications, such as programming it to assist children with autism spectrum disorders for social and emotional skills development or providing companionship and emotional support for the elderly. In light of this, let’s move on to our next point.

NAO, as an effective tool for learning and therapy

Many schools are experimenting with humanoid robots in education to assist children with learning disabilities globally, and NAO is widely deployed within medical and educational institutions for use by children. In the realm of education, NAO serves as a versatile teaching assistant. Its humanoid appearance and expressive features help create an engaging and relatable learning environment. NAO educational robots can deliver lessons, interact with students, and provide real-time feedback, enhancing student engagement and motivation. By leveraging its speech recognition and natural language processing abilities, NAO can answer questions, explain complex concepts, and adapt its teaching style to cater to individual student needs. The presence of NAO in classrooms has been shown to foster creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative skills among students.

Moreover, NAO has proven to be an invaluable tool in therapy and rehabilitation settings. Its friendly demeanor and non-threatening presence make it particularly effective in working with children, individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and those with cognitive or physical disabilities. NAO can facilitate social interactions, assist in developing communication skills, and encourage emotional expression. In therapy sessions, NAO can lead interactive exercises, follow therapy routines, and provide personalized feedback, aiding in the progress and well-being of patients.

We have also written a research article in detail on NAO is helping people with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Read it here

NAO assists researchers in evaluating children’s mental health

Researchers from the University of Cambridge are experimenting with using NAO, a 60cm-tall humanoid robot, to assess children’s mental health. In this study, 28 children between the ages of eight and 13 participated in individual 45-minute sessions with the robot. Interestingly, the children who showed signs of potential mental well-being concerns based on traditional questionnaires provided more negative responses when answering the same questions posed by the robot. Moreover, some participants disclosed information to the robot that they had not previously shared in face-to-face or online questionnaires. These findings provide growing evidence for using robots to support mental healthcare services. While robots could play a broader role in assessing children’s mental health, the researchers emphasize that they are not intended to replace professional mental health support.

NAO for environmental research

In environmental research, NAO robots are used for collecting data on wildlife populations and monitoring water and air quality. Researchers working in remote and harsh environments that may be dangerous for humans can deploy robots to collect data on their behalf. These machiens can be adapted to operate in harsh environments such as the sea or the polar regions.


NAO robots are not without limitations. They are not yet capable of replacing all human research, and their current capabilities do not extend to complex tasks like discovering new cures or treatments. Additionally, many scientists are reluctant to entirely replace human or animal experimentation with robots.


Despite their limitations, NAO robots are valuable in scientific research, providing a practical and cost-effective substitute for human experimentation. As it stands, NAO robots have shown immense potential in various fields, such as medical research, environmental research, and education. Given the current rate of development and innovation, NAO robots will likely continue to play an increasingly significant role in scientific advancements. In conclusion, using NAO robots in research presents a promising future for scientific discoveries and advances.

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