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!
Images: Hanson Robotics
Erico Guizzo is the digital product manager at IEEE Spectrum. An IEEE Member, he is an electrical engineer by training and has a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.