SoftBank Robotics documentation What's new in NAOqi 2.5?

Autonomous Abilities

What are Autonomous Abilities

Autonomous Abilities exist to keep the robot alive at all times.

For example, they may cause the robot to move, or may animate his LEDs.

List of Autonomous Abilities

Autonomous Ability Description For further details see ...
AutonomousBlinking Enables the robot to make its eye LEDs blink when it sees someone and when it is interacting. ALAutonomousBlinking
BackgroundMovement Defines which slight movements the robot does autonomously when its limbs are not moving. ALBackgroundMovement
BasicAwareness Allows the robot to react to the environment to establish and keep eye contact with people. ALBasicAwareness
ListeningMovement Enables some slight movements showing that the robot is listening. ALListeningMovement
SpeakingMovement Enables to start autonomously movements during the speech of the robot. ALSpeakingMovement

How it works

Autonomous Life states modify Autonomous Abilities configurations

Each time ALAutonomousLife enters into a new State or reinforce the current one (when an Activity starts or stops), the Autonomous abilities are set into a specific configuration.

Autonomous Abilities configurations are set depending on Autonomous Life states, as shown in the following table:

  Autonomous Life state
Disabled Solitary Interactive
AutonomousBlinking Disabled Disabled Enabled
BackgroundMovement Disabled Enabled Enabled
BasicAwareness Disabled Enabled Enabled

Types of stimulus

Sound, Movement, People and Touch

Types of stimulus

Sound, Movement, People and Touch

Engagement Mode


Engagement Mode


Tracking Mode

  • Pepper: BodyRotation
  • Nao: Head

Tracking Mode

  • Pepper: BodyRotation
  • Nao: Head
ListeningMovement Disabled Enabled Enabled
SpeakingMovement Enabled Enabled Enabled







Priority between the Autonomous Abilities

Each Autonomous Ability has an enabled and a running boolean value:

  • enabled value means the Autonomous Ability has right to move the robot.
  • running value means the Autonomous Ability is currently running.

There is some priority between the Autonomous Abilities, that causes constraints in the running boolean values:

  • BackgroundMovement will not be running when ListeningMovement or SpeakingMovement is running.
  • ListeningMovement will not be running when SpeakingMovement is running.
  • SpeakingMovement has the highest autonomous ability priority.


AutonomousBlinking and BasicAwareness don’t deal with the priorities between the autonomous abilities because they can run in parallel.

Customizing Autonomous Abilities

In some cases, you may want to disable all or part of the Autonomous Abilities or at least customize the configuration of the underlying feature.


Best practice: do not disable unduly

If you have the need to sometimes stop an Autonomous Ability, you should still keep it running as much as possible, or provide equivalent customized functionality in your Activity in order to keep your robot continuously alive.

How to enable/disable Autonomous Ability


Example in python

#! /usr/bin/env python
# -*- encoding: UTF-8 -*-

"""Example: Use setAutonomousAbilityEnabled Method"""

import qi
import argparse
import sys

def main(session):
    This example uses the setAutonomousAbilityEnabled method.
    # Get the service ALAutonomousLife.

    life_service = session.service("ALAutonomousLife")
    life_service.setAutonomousAbilityEnabled("BasicAwareness", True)

if __name__ == "__main__":
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
    parser.add_argument("--ip", type=str, default="",
                        help="Robot IP address. On robot or Local Naoqi: use ''.")
    parser.add_argument("--port", type=int, default=9559,
                        help="Naoqi port number")

    args = parser.parse_args()
    session = qi.Session()
        session.connect("tcp://" + args.ip + ":" + str(args.port))
    except RuntimeError:
        print ("Can't connect to Naoqi at ip \"" + args.ip + "\" on port " + str(args.port) +".\n"
               "Please check your script arguments. Run with -h option for help.")

How to modify Autonomous Ability parameters

To customize Autonomous Ability parameters, use the API of the corresponding service, see: