It seems like not every cute little robot has to go the way of Sony's AIBO. Nao, the product of French startup Aldebaran Robotics, has successfully negotiated its way to a second generation — fittingly dubbed the Nao Next Gen — coming with numerous hardware and software upgrades. The processor inside is now a 1.6GHz Intel Atom chip, which may not sound like much computational power, but is enough to handle two simultaneous HD video streams from the upgraded cameras in the new Nao. Software-wise, the Aldebaran team has added Nuance voice recognition for better communication with humans, an improved walking algortihm, and smart torque control to refine the bot's body coordination.
The Nao Next Gen launches three years after the original Nao's debut and continues to target the same markets: research and educational institutions, personal wellbeing, and individual developers who may apply to join the Nao Developer Program. Aldebaran Robotics says it has sold 2,000 units of Nao so far, though the goal for Nao Next Gen will surely be exponentially higher.