NAO Challenge 2021 Edition
The NAO Challenge is an educational contest for high school students organized for the first time in Italy in 2015 by Scuola di Robotica (the School of Robotics) in collaboration with SoftBank Robotics and the Italian company CampuStore.
“The main benefit of using NAO in schools is its attractiveness as it inspires curiosity in the students. Thanks to his attractiveness, NAO was able to motivate our students to develop new skills and gain the technical knowledge required to control the robot.” - Prof. Daniele Contarino - Technology and Computer Science, Team Pachino Express - ICOTEA (Sicily)
To prepare students (with an average age of 15-18) for the challenges of the current technological evolution, the contest focuses on various subjects ranging from STEM and Arts, technoscience, to humanities. With this aim, the competition offers high school students the chance to work and program humanoid robots NAO to be used in plausible and real-like situations. The competition also aims at helping the students to acquire skills to apply in the professional and corporate arena, such as:
- Problem-solving, organizational, and cooperation skills
- Technical and planning skills
- Creativity and communication skills
- Discovering promising professions and careers
- Becoming a part of the community of creators and developers in the field of robotics and new technologies
- Meeting the community of NAO users, teams, technicians, and specialists who will request special assistance for the entire duration of the contest
- Lastly, discovering the fascination of robotics and the spirit of initiative and entrepreneurship that distinguishes it, a world that combines technology, innovation, creating activity, and passion
The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) has included the NAO Challenge among the competitions that allow access to the National Register of Excellence.
How It Works
The teams, made up of a maximum of ten students, are divided into two categories for the semi-finals: those who own the robot NAO and those who do not. The school that wants to participate in the NAO Challenge does not need to own a humanoid robot and can use a simulator instead. All teams can use the NAO simulation software - especially remotely - and, during the school year, have the opportunity to test their program on a real NAO robot made available by the organizers through a hosting network. The tests are different for each edition to stimulate students to explore the potential of humanoid robots in different areas of everyday reality.
NAO Challenge 2021
For the 2021 edition, the chosen theme is “Protection and Promotion of Cultural Heritage”. To participate, teams must select and pre-hear the recipient(s) of the project and present how they came to conceive the solution proposed through various tests that include taking the study of specific cases, the analyses of the existing solutions, and interviews with experts.
The 2021 edition of the NAO Challenge has the following objectives-
Program NAO robot to locate new applications to protect, promote and protect cultural heritage through the interaction between the robots and other devices
Identify and cooperate with cultural institutions interested in experimenting with new technologies and creating a project to be presented during the contest.
The teams will be called to contact and collaborate with an organization, museum, educational, scientific, and cultural and create, in synergy, a project with the humanoid robot NAO to develop paths for protecting cultural heritage to be presented during the contest.
NAO Challenge will comprise of following three phases-
Phase 1 -
All the teams will have to go through a pre-selection phase online to participate in the semifinals. For pre-selection, each team will have to identify a professional institution that operates in the field of cultural and natural heritage such as museums, archaeological, historical, and naturalistic sites. The team will have to actively collaborate with the institution to create interactive, effective, and useful solutions for the promotion of culture and safeguard the cultural heritage of the sector in which it operates. In case of qualifying for the semifinals, the collaboration with the institution must then last until the end of the event.
The teams will be evaluated on the following parameters-
- Innovation and feasibility of the project presented
- Originality and clarity of videos
- Completeness, correctness, clarity, and graphics of the brand identity
- Completeness, correctness, clarity, and graphics of the website
Phase 2 -
Teams that have passed Phase 1 will participate in the semifinals carried out on a macro-regional basis. Semifinals will be carried out face-to-face or online, based on the COVID19 situation and any institutional provisions. In the case of a face-to-face performance, the individual teams unable to preside will be able to participate in a dedicated online semifinal.
Semifinals will comprise of three tests as follows-
Test 1 - This is Our Team
During this test students will have to:
- Describe to the jury the team, the roles within the team, the working method used and bring it at the end
- Describe the website created
- Present the social communication plan
- Show the path taken by the team, with the help of the updates section on the team’s website
The teams will be evaluated on the following parameters-
- Clarity of exposure
- Creativity and innovation
- Inclusion and team cohesion
- Use of the NAO robot
- Site and social
- Clarity and completeness of the website
- Quality of the messages produced
- Efficiency of communication
- Diffusion and created interactions
- Dissemination in the local, national and televisions and radio
Test 2 - NAO, can you help me to..?
In this test, the teams will have to devise a method to use humanoid robotics in the context of cultural heritage with the aim of creating interactive and fun applications to protect, promote and defend this legacy.
For the test, the teams will have to-
- Realize the project
- Upload on its website
- Documentation material for design and specifications of the used technical techniques
- Demonstration video of the project (maximum duration of 2 minutes)
- Software of NAO and external devices
- The video commercial (maximum duration 30 seconds)
- The storyboard and the script of the video
The jury will evaluate, in addition to the material provided, the presentation and demonstration of the project. In the case of online participation, teams can use the hosted robot or take advantage of the simulator.
The teams will be evaluated based upon the following parameters-
- Presentation of the solution and the project
- Innovation and feasibility of the proposed idea
- Quality of the prototype
- Prototype innovation
- Software: technical choices, fluidity, stability, dialogue, interactions
- Demo quality: design, entertainment, animation accessories, originality
- Quality and effectiveness of the commercial
Test 3 - X-NAO (Show and tell with a robot presenter)
For this test, the team will have to design and present a theatrical performance with the aim to promote cultural and natural heritage.
For the tests, the team will have to -
- Design the theatrical show
- Record it and publish the video on the website (maximum duration 5 minutes
- Staging the show in front of the jury
The teams will be evaluated on the parameters as below -
- Interaction between the robot and humans
- Quality of the show
- Team participation
- Scenery and props
Phase 3 -
The final phase will include the tests of Phase II to be repeated, with the same rules. Teams will have to review and improve the deliveries for the various tests based on any feedback received from the juries during Phase II.
In addition, a hackathon will also be organized as a test to be carried out in real-time during the final. The rules of the hackathon will be published at the end of the semifinals.
Testimonies of Academicians
Following are few testimonies from teams who participated in previous NAO Challenges -
“Conceiving NAO, or at least, participating in the NAO Challenge is an absolutely positive experience from the technical point of view because the students are pushed to invent and design new software and hardware components, but also from the social point of view because it creates a deep friendship between the team members that can last even longer than the school period.” - Prof. Eliana Bottari - Computer Science - Team QuiQuoNao – IIS Verona-Trento (Messina)
“There are many benefits in using NAO in schools. In general, I think that using physical devices in teaching, especially in the 21st century, is fundamental because students need to physically touch what they are learning. In particular, when making something practical, they become aware that they are actually building something that works and that teaches them to be more self-conscious. In particular, the humanoid form of NAO allows the students to identify themselves with it, giving the opportunity to everyone to get more involved. More precisely, NAO is a sophisticated machine that is also very simple to use and to program. Thanks to its simplicity, NAO can be used, not only as a professional tool but also as a game within everyone's reach.” - Prof. Paolo Borrelli - Computer Sciences & Information Systems, -Team NAO’s Hand - Superior Institute of Pitagora (Pozzuoli)
“The use of NAO, as well as all programmable devices, is fundamental in our world where computer science and technology are everywhere. In particular, a robot that emulates human behaviour pushes the people who have to program it to fully understand the logical process behind programming simple tasks like taking a glass of water or other similar assignments.” - Roberta Molinari - Computer Sciences Teacher, - Team InNAOvation - ITIS Delpozzo (Cuneo)
SoftBank Robotics Europe is a proud supporter of the NAO Challenge and thanks to the teachers and students for their creativity with the NAO robot.