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Zeno: new robot walks, talks and learns

Zeno: new robot walks, talks and learns

Sony's AIBO robot dog, which was put to sleep early last year, was to date the most promising line of home robots ever sold. Though appealing, friendly and programmable, AIBO was also expensive -- more than US$1,500.

Now, a new home robot has popped up on the horizon. Called Zeno, the humanoid-talking robot being developed by Hanson Robotics is modelled loosely after the Japanese comic character, Astro Boy.

Zeno, which is 431mm tall and weighs 2.7 kilo, can walk, talk, learn and use your face and name, express faux "emotions" and even make eye contact with humans and family pets.

That's right. When I walk in the room, Zeno will look me in the eye and say, "Hi, Mike."

Rather than cramming all the robot brains into the robot itself, Zeno's intelligence is your own PC connected via wi-fi. This is how Hanson maximises compute power while minimising price. Zeno should cost less than $300.

Early reports even suggest that Zeno connects to the internet as part of how it learns about the world.

You'll be hearing a lot about Zeno starting next week. Hanson will unveil this creation at the NextFest conference in Los Angeles. We'll be watching this very interesting new product. It could become the first mainstream home robot.

GO TO: Robot research: Pie in the sky dreams


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