When you think of an android, emotional capacity probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. However, the NAO robot boasts the ability to learn, recognize, and interact with humans—and develop emotions as well. NAO was developed by Aldebaran Robotics and stands a mere 58 centimeters (23 in) tall.
What makes NAO so versatile is how programmable it is. The University of Hertfordshire is using this ability to help it learn emotions. By building on NAO’s ability to recognize and learn facial and body language, the new NAO will form an attachment to those it sees most. From there, NAO will be able to learn emotions much in the same way young children do—through observation. Rather than just preprogramming anger, fear, sadness, excitement, pride, and happiness into the robot, NAO will actually learn when and how to use these emotions through observation of teachers and trial-and-error. In addition, it has the ability to learn several other skills, including writing and different languages. NAO has been used as an educator and for visiting kids. NAO also gives comedy shows, grooms cats, helps with research, plays soccer, and works at hospitals. Researchers are excited to see what the future holds for this little robot.