Robot in Residence

Nao Robot in Namibia @ Goethe-Institut

Robot in Residence

A NAO robot travelling through African countries as part of a regional project on diversity in artificial intelligences initiated by the Goethe-Institut. The goal is to teach the NAO local cultural skills in the selected host countries.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not neutral. The way robots are built, trained, and used has a major impact on our everyday lives and societies. How a robot interacts with people of different origins, cultures, genders, sexual orientation depends on who built the system and what training data was used for programming. With the consequences and problems of a lack of diversity, the project advocates for a critical reflection of the design processes and creates examples for a diverse vision of the future with and through AI.

About NAO
In the "Robot in Residence" project, the dark gray NAO 6, which stands about 60 centimeters tall and weighs just over fifteen kilograms. NAO is the sixth generation of the interactive humanoid robot NAO, developed by the Japanese-French company SoftBank Robotics. It is in use worldwide and serves primarily as a research object for educational institutions. 

Its 25 degrees of movement make communication with NAO appear particularly natural. The robot has various sensors as well as modules for voice, object and face recognition and speaks several languages. Since 2020, two of these NAO robots have travelled to various Goethe-Instituts in Europe and Africa. On site, the robots were supervised and further programmed by programmers and artists, taking into account the local conditions.

This resident robot has been sent by the Goethe-Institut to different countries in Africa on an intercultural exploratory tour of Africa. During this program, he will be mentored and further programmed by coders and artists, depending on local issues and frameworks, so that he learns cultural skills and abilities from each host country. 

Call for Application


March and April 2024 will be the Namibian premiere of this programme where a NAO 6 humanoid robot will be in residence for two months. During this time, the Goethe-Institut will offer up to 4 participants the opportunity to work closely with the NAO.

Robots in Residence aims to explore and illustrate the relationship between humans and machines, focussing on communication in different cultural contexts. During each residency, the robots learn new skills and take their newly acquired knowledge and abilities further out into the world, increasingly incorporating aspects that can collectively capture and stimulate a multifaceted debate on artificial intelligence as part of the conversation on diversity in AI.

To counter stereotypical and outdated views of Africa - as a physical geography open to all kinds of exploitation - this project will have a strong focus on innovation, investigation and approaches from an African perspective.