Robot Toddler Learns to Walk, Talk, Behave Like a Human

"Robots can be loved too," inventor says

By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 13, 2007 8:14 PM CDT

(Newser) – Zeno is an energetic toddler learning to walk and talk. He’s also a robot, the brainchild of engineer David Hanson. Hanson's Texas company has been working on lifelike “social robots” for five years and says they are akin to any other artist’s sculpture or painting. “We’re trying to make a new art medium out of robotics,” Hanson told the AP.

Zeno, whose face is composed of skin-like material and derives intelligence wirelessly from a PC, can recognize faces, learn names, and build relationships with humans. “Robots can seem real and be loved too,” Hanson says. But he is aware of what he calls the "uncanny valley" theory—that humans appreciate semi-lifelike robots but are disturbed by overly realistic androids.

David Hanson, right, holds his son Zeno on his lap as the two look at Hansons' Robot creation, also named, Zeno, at his office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007.  (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
David Hanson, right, holds his son Zeno on his lap as the two look at Hansons' Robot creation, also named, Zeno, at his office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)   (Associated Press)
David Hanson, right, and Jason Mitchell, left, work on making adjustments to Zeno, center, a 17 inch tall robot created by Hanson and his team in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007.  At 17 inches tall and weighing 6 lbs, the artificial Zeno is the culmination of five years of...
David Hanson, right, and Jason Mitchell, left, work on making adjustments to Zeno, center, a 17 inch tall robot created by Hanson and his team in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. At 17 inches...   (Associated Press)
Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson makes one of his many expressive faces at Hanson's office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson makes one of his many expressive faces at Hanson's office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)   (Associated Press)
Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson makes one of his many expressive faces at Hanson's office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. At 17 inches tall and weighing 6 lbs, the artificial Zeno is the culmination of five years of work by Hanson and a small group...
Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson makes one of his many expressive faces at Hanson's office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. At 17 inches tall and weighing 6 lbs, the artificial...   (Associated Press)
Jason Mitchell, left, and Joshua Varner, right, make adjustments to Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson at the Hanson Robotics office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. At 17 inches tall and weighing 6 lbs, the artificial Zeno is the culmination of five years of work by...
Jason Mitchell, left, and Joshua Varner, right, make adjustments to Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson at the Hanson Robotics office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. At 17 inches...   (Associated Press)
Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson is shown as Hanson, rear, makes an adjustment to the robot during an interview with a reporter at his office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. At 17 inches tall and weighing 6 lbs, the artificial Zeno is the culmination of...
Zeno, a robot boy creation by David Hanson is shown as Hanson, rear, makes an adjustment to the robot during an interview with a reporter at his office in Richardson, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. At...   (Associated Press)
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