NAO Programing Seminar at YNL

The DAY1 of two-day course “NAO Programing Seminar at YNL” started with a speech of Bruno Maisonnier, CEO, Aldebaran Robotics. It is intended for students of YNL and those of Department of Mechano-Informatics. It is the first initiative under the Educational Program between our lab at University of Tokyo and Aldebaran Robotics. I would like to express my special thanks to the four engineers of Aldebaran who spent the whole day with the rich contents.

I came back to the class room late in the afternoon, I found some students flustrated being left behind. After talking to the engineers after the seminar, I recognized that the classroom culture in Japan made the situation. The engineers were also embarrassed with almost zero reaction of students in the classroom, while they used to have more expressive interaction with students in France. I hope it is a useful experience that they learned the most difficult skill for Japanese professors.

The USTREAM archives are as follows.

DAY1-Part1 http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/10226237

DAY1-Part2 http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/10230526

DAY1-Part3 http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/10233766

The contents of DAY1 are:

=========================================================
October 16th, morning: 9:30-12:00
===================================
Introduction of NAO
How to use Choregraphe /Telepathe
 +Introducation of Choregraphe
 +Behavior manager
  ->How to make motion
  ->Accessing sensor information
  ->Introduction to NaoQi framework using Python scripts in 
     Choregraphe
  ->Introduction of Proxy
  ->Synchronous and Asynchronous programming
  ->Hardware descriptions and best practices
  +How to use Telepathe: visualizing sensor data
=====================================
October 16th, afternoon 13:00-17:00
=====================================
 +Developing with the SDK
   ->Presentation of the SDK
   ->Going further with  NaoQi architecture (concept of modules)
   ->Installation of SDK and extra tools cmake, Python
   ->Creating and using a remote behavior
   ->Create a behavior using a Python script without Choregraphe
     (Get an image from the video extractor))
  +Create and compile a remote C++ module using ALMemory,
   Reactive programming --Checking an event/Reacting to an event--)
  +Motion
   ->Joint control
   ->Dynamic Walk
   ->Practice
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We use NAO for education and research

NAOs

We start to use 30 humanoids robots, NAO, for education and research in some laboratories at the Department of Mechano-Informatics, the University of Tokyo. It is based on the educational program of Aldebaran Robotics, France. NAO is a fine educational robot with many input/output peripherals and open software platform. In 2010 winter semester, Prof. Wataru Takano and I open a seminar for junior students on “About Beauty of Posture and Motion Programmed in Humanoid Robots.”  We plan to organize it with Prof. Satoru Kitago and his students in Tokyo University of the Arts. It’s going to be a big fun.

I had a chance to visit Aldebaran Robotics in Paris in December 2009. Mr. Bruno Maisonnier, the president, explained that it had about 100 employees among which about 50 were development engineers. I met many of engineers in an open wide floor of the building in Paris, who were working at CAD systems, programming robots, doing hardware experiments and enjoying discussions. The engineers were from several countries including the US and some of them had Ph.D degrees. Just like a typical example of growing IT enterprises, the floor was active, cheerful, and noisy. To be honest, it was my first impression that the hardware would need further developments before the technology reached the level of SONY QRIO. Although Japan is still the leading country of robotics in particular with hardware technology and industrial applications, we could grow neither SONY AIBO nor QRIO in spite of their technical excellence and commercial success as robots. They are gone and we miss them a lot! I am among those who would like to see a hungry robotics venture enterprise spurt out from the robotics of Japan. I hope that the adventure of Aldebaran Robotics sets seeds of hungry robotics ventures, not only in this country.

My comments to the Report of National Moon Exploration

The report of the Informal Meeting on Moon Exploration (of Japan) was published on July 29th 2010 at its 9th meeting. The information is available from  (here) in Japanese.  The list of public comments (invited for the draft of the report publicized at the 8th meeting) and the replies to them are also found in the information, among which the discussions on robots are interesting to read. This is an important report for robotics as one of its future orbits. I am among those who claim that  robotics could commit more challenging contributions in the range of 10 years. I would like to share my comments to the report which was submitted to the public comments (one can find the reply to it in the information) in what follows:

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Are you looking at me?

An old Citroen (LEFT) was seen on a street in Bologna at a conference in 2006. It reminded my childhood. The faces of cars always scared me.  Norm Chomsky claims the innate linguistic system in the human brain. I would like to claim the innate anthropomorphic equipment (AE) in the human brain. The AE is the function to understand and interpret human and human behaviors, which is a development of evolution by the necessity of mutual communication between humans. Anthropomorphism and language are from the same origin and keys for human behaviors and robot intelligence. The trams (MIDDLE) and trolley-bus in San Francisco add a unique character to the city. They are of classic flavor, but even  add a high-tech flavor as a contemporary city-transportation in the current energy evolution. The face of the tram did not scared me and looked like DORAEMON to me. The arrival to Narita airport from the 11th International Symposium on the 3D Analysis of Human Movement in San Francisco was July 17th, 2010 and the very first day of the New Skyliner (RIGHT). It was cool, clean and comfortable. I wonder if its  nonorganic face still scares a child.

Udine, where Robotics Symposium was born.

Probably it is safe to say that the very first academic symposium on robotics was born in Udine, Italy in 1976 as the first symposium of Romansy of IFToMM. The biannual symposium was in Udine in July 2010 as the 18th symposium. In early days, the symposia in Udine were always at the same small room in CISM, International Center for Machine Science, which is easily filled by only 30 participants. The chandelier must have seen the enthusiastic days. Udine had only a few information in a tourism book including the bell tower on top of which two Moors strike a bell. A small medieval city characterized by Islamic, East-European, and of course Italian cultures was where robotics was born.

A Road to Rome

Every road goes to Rome. The old saying might not have been too common yet when this road was made in BC3rd century. In a country side within 25 km of Rome, there are two small volcanic lakes, surrounding which there is a hill of territory of Vatican City. Prof. Marco Ceccarelli, a local resident and President of IFToMM, says that the previous pope spent a lot of time there. The road is going to the top of the highest hill overlooking the lakes. Flat stone pavement, even with nonskid surface, was about 2.5 m wide and enough for two way traffic of Roman chariots. We were on the same road that Caesar and Augustus walked to go to the church on the top of the hill, said Prof. Ceccarelli. The conversation about the international academic society was sometimes intervened by such Roman histories or vice versa, reminding me to be prepared with histories to intervene whenever speaking with Italian friends.