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David Hanson's Incredible Robot Heads

Hanson Robotics would like you to meet their new android heads

2 min read
David Hanson's Incredible Robot Heads

Last year, we reported that British researchers are using a Charles Babbage robot head to develop emotional machines. We wondered whether the Charles head was a Hanson Robotics creation. We now have the answer.

"Yes, Charles is a Hanson Robotics creation," David Hanson, founder and CTO of the company, tells us.

Hanson says they built the robot more than a year ago and he was pleased to see that the Cambridge researchers have put it to work. "I think they’re up to some good stuff," he says.

Above is an image of Charles at the Hanson robot factory.

Hanson also updated us on his company's latest developments -- they've been busy working on some new robots and updating old ones. These creations are incredible, and I can't decide where I'd put them in the uncanny valley chart.

First, there's Zeno. No, not the little Zeno. This is a big Zeno, modeled after Zeno of Elea, the mathematical philosopher who, as Hanson puts it, "introduced riddles of recursion that vexed the Greeks so terribly, and inspired [Douglas] Hofstadter so much that he included Zeno as a character in 'Gödel, Escher, Bach.' "

Here's a video, and there's a photo of it below as well:

Hanson has been putting a lot of effort on software, and the latest version has "features enabling common sense reasoning and learning," he says. "This is a collaboration of numerous groups through the Apollo Mind Initiative"—a nonprofit he helped found—"dedicated to helping institutions collaborate on realizing greater-than-human genius in machine intelligence."

The company has also just rebuilt their famed Philip K. Dick robot. The upgrade, commissioned by a Dutch public TV station working on a documentary about the author, is "more expressive and intelligent," Hanson says:

And I know you're wondering: What about the little Zeno? Hanson pointed us to this video from last year, and shared this bit of news: He expects the robot to be ready for a release to researchers in 2011, and consumers in 2012.

We'll be waiting!

More photos:

hanson robotics zeno

Images: Hanson Robotics 

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
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In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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