Zeno - the high tech robot toyDuring the RoboDevelopment Conference and Expo 2007 that was held in San Jose the prototype robot 'Zeno' has been introduced by Hanson Robotics. 'Zeno' is a robot that has as its strong point its fully expressive face but that's not by far all it can do. The robot can also keep track of where people's faces are, turn around to so that it will make eye contact, and also learn the names and voices of the people that will interact with it. Zeno measures 17-inches in height and has a weight of 170g. If you are wondering about its power supply, you should know that it runs on lithium polymer batteries that have about 1 hour battery life, which might not seem much at a first glance but you should have in mind the size and complexity of the robot's actions.
In order to create this little robot and give it the possibility of interacting with the surrounding environment, Hanson Robotics has created a partnership with Massive Software, the developer of AI simulation software used in the film 'The Lord of the Rings'. The robot's ability to navigate, take facial expressions, and move its body based on what it sees in its physical environment are all possible thanks to the vision and decision making components available in Massive Software.
Tomotaka Takahashi, the leading robot designer in Japan is also involved in the creation of this boy robot. Takahashi is the one responsible for Zeno's design who has been made to resemble the beloved Japanese television character, Astro Boy. This action is a smart marketing move, as it is sure to attract the character's fans. Zeno is expected to be released as a mass-market consumer product in 2009, and the suggested price seems to be under 300(USD) which would make it quite accessible considering the technology used in its creation.