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Robot maker builds artificial boy

When you wish upon a star
Thu Sep 13 2007, 08:34
ROBOT BOFFIN, David Hanson has built a boy which he says will become a plastic pal who is fun to be with.

The robot, called Zeno after Hanson's real son, has a fair way to go. It cannot speak or walk yet, but has blinking eyes that can track people and a face has a range of expressions.

Hanson Robotics have been building Zeno for five years and their hope is that they can be the first to flog lifelike robotic companions, or social robots.

Unlike most robotic toys, Hanson wants Zeno to be able to engage in conversation and convey human emotion through a face made of a skin-like, patented material Hanson calls frubber.

Hanson plans to make Zenos available to consumers within the next three years for $200 to $300 although it will be at least 15 years before robot builders can approach anything like what seems to be possible in movies.

One of the biggest differences between Zeno and other robots is that his brains not inside. He synchs wirelessly to a PC running a variant of Massive Software, the same code that enabled the fantastical battles in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

More here. µ


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