Writing textbooks about NAO6


Some backstory

It was 2018, around spring. My teacher called for a meeting with three other classmates and me. She brought great news: a new version of the popular humanoid robot “NAO” will be released soon. Moreover, we might be one of the earliest schools to get our hands on the upgraded model! We already had three V5 NAOs. The four of us were excited. However, she had more news: we had the opportunity to write a textbook about how to program the new NAO6. As high school students.

The process

Surely, we accepted this insane offer. The company we collaborated with is called Technik-LPE. The plan was to write two books: one about the fundamentals of programming NAO6 and another one for a range of scenarios where NAO6 could be used. We split into two teams to focus on our respective books, but we still supported each other when we needed help. Every Friday afternoon we stayed at school, and in the later stages, every day after school. Even so, we had a great time experimenting with NAO6’s features, coding projects, writing guides, taking pictures and working together.

The finished product

By the end of 2019, we completed our books and sent them to Technik-LPE, who handled the rest from there. Some months later, we held about 500 grams of paper in our hands. Holding the product of a year of hard work, I was feeling a mixture of amazement and accomplishment.

NAO Books

You can buy a printed copy in German on the Technik-LPE store:

There is an article about this project written by Ulrich Eberl in the German science magazine bild der wissenschaft: Robotik ist, wenn Schüler Lehrer bilden

My former classmate Melanie wrote a nice article (in German) that was published in a local newspaper: Pfuhler Schüler schreiben Lehrbuch

Since 2020, you can get the digital versions in English on the official Softbank Robotics website: LEARN IT NAO6 – DO IT NAO6 (Updated)

Lessons learned

  • If you have an opportunity, enough time and motivation, you should really consider writing a book. It’s a valuable experience.
  • Don’t write lengthy texts (like books) in OneNote. It was horrible. When you need collaborative editing, use other software.
  • When you create guides, think thoroughly about the structure before writing your content. After you decide on a particular format, be consistent throughout your guide in regards to structure (e.g. every chapter is divided into Introduction → Implementation → Running → Troubleshooting), target group and used terms.
  • This is specific to programming NAOs: Avoid hardcoding movements that rely on NAO6’s positioning and have to be accurate at all costs. Making NAO6 write its own name with a pen was a horrendous experience. Would not recommend.