NAO Robots Bring Exciting New Opportunities to TCNJ Robotics
The NAO robots are an impressive new addition to The College of New Jersey’s School of Engineering. The robots, which were purchased in the fall of 2014, are presenting students with new research opportunities as well as insight into the future of robotics.
Dr. Seung-yun Kim works on the robots with research students in the MUSE program. The NAO robots are capable of performing almost any physical action, including standing up, sitting down, running, and dancing. The robots are also able to communicate with humans, as they can answer questions, follow commands, and formulate vocal responses. Dr. Kim and the MUSE students spent this past summer programming the robots’ ability to recognize patterns and color. Thanks to their efforts, the robots can now successfully play soccer via the Petri Net simulation tool. They can identify a ball and communicate amongst themselves to pass the ball between them. In their research, Dr. Kim’s team has also created a car that the robot can drive via sensors. This innovation has led them to Hawaii and Las Vegas to publish and present their research at the 31st International Conference on Computers and their Applications. Yilin Yang, a part of Dr. Kim’s MUSE team and a computer engineering major, was the only undergraduate student who presented at the conference.
For both faculty and students in the department, the NAO robots are already making an impact on their futures. According to Dr. Kim, these robots are going to be “really popular in the future” as “everything can be done with robotics”. For example, some engineers are beginning to work on the NAO robots as an innovative interactive tool for children with autism. Overall, the possibilities for humanoid robots are endless, making them the way of the future. While working on the robots, undergraduate students are able to gain unique and valuable hands-on experience with the intricacies of robotics. Next year, the department hopes to acquire Baxter robots. These robots are sophisticated two armed robots that can be used as teaching tools in class. Just like the NAO robots, the Baxter robots are sure to make an important impact on the education of TCNJ students.