Hanson Robotics Limited

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Hanson Robotics is based in Hong Kong.

Hanson Robotics Limited is a Hong Kong-based engineering and robotics company best known for its development of humanlike robots with artificial intelligence (AI) for consumer, entertainment, service, healthcare, and research applications. It has a team of 45 employees and it is the creator of such high-profile humanoid robots as the Albert HUBO, the first walking robot with human-like expressions; BINA48, an interactive humanoid robot bust; Zeno, a small robot widely employed in autism research;[1][2] and Sophia, the world’s first robot citizen.[3]

The company develops a number of character robots with a realistic humanoid appearance and behavior. According to the company’s website, Hanson Robotics aims to create intelligent and empathetic robots that teach, serve, entertain, and provide companionship.[4] The most advanced of the company’s robots is Sophia.

Hanson Robotics’ robots feature a patented spongy elastomer skin called Frubber that resembles human skin in its feel and flexibility.[5] Underneath the Frubber, are proprietary motor control systems that enable the robots to convey a wide range of human expressions.[6]

David Hanson is the company’s founder and chief executive officer. Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics is Ben Goertzel.

Hanson Robotics' first exhibited at the 2002 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference in Edmonton, Canada and at the 2003 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) at the annual meeting in Washington DC.

In October 2016, the company was selected as one of nine companies to join the Disney Accelerator program.[7]

The company’s artificial intelligence software collects emotional and visual data that provide social insights.

Humanoid robots[edit]

Sophia[edit]

Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ most well-known robot, is regularly featured in news outlets, and receives a great deal of public interest, evolving as she learns from each human interaction she has. The company's latest creation made her debut at the 2016 South by Southwest (SXSW) show, with her interview by CNBC reaching a broad audience.[8] Since then, she has become a global media personality, having conducted numerous press interviews and appeared on broadcast television shows including CBS 60 Minutes with Charlie Rose,[9] the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,[10] and Good Morning Britain.[11] She has also been a keynote and panel speaker at global conferences and events, including those hosted by ITU,[12] United Nations.[13]

Sophia was featured in AUDI’s annual report[14] and has graced the cover and centerfold of ELLE Magazine.[15] Sophia is also the first United Nations Development Programme’s first ever Innovation Champion, and the first non-human to be given any UN title.[16] In 2018, Sophia won an Edison Award for Innovation in that competition's robotics category.[17]

Alice[edit]

Alice was developed in 2008 for MIRA Labs in Geneva, Switzerland.[18] The female humankind robot has an emotionally expressive face. She acts to serve cognitive robotics research at the University of Geneva and is part of the INDIGO cognitive robotics consortium,[19] where Hanson Robotics is a founding member.

Albert Einstein HUBO[edit]

Albert Einstein HUBO was,[20] developed in November 2005 in collaboration with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) HUBO group of Korea.[21] Inspired by German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, the expressive walking humanoid featured Einstein’s head on a HUBO robot body. KAIST built the walking body, and Hanson Robotics built the animatronic head and the face, which uses elastic polymer called Frubber.[22]

The robot debuted at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November 2005.[23] It was the first android head in history to be mounted on a life-size walking frame. Albert Einstein HUBO can perform realistic facial expressions and mimic Albert Einstein’s voice via a voice synthesizer.[24] The robot is currently at the University of California, San Diego at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) where scientists study the capability of robots to learn emotional intelligence.

BINA48[edit]

BINA48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture 48) is a humanoid robot who has a bust-like head and shoulders mounted on a frame, and can produce realistic facial appearance from 30 motors beneath her Frubber skin.[25] She was released by Hanson in 2010. She is described as a “technological sketch” of a human being, commissioned by millionaire Martine Rothblatt to mimic the appearance and personality of her spouse of over 35 years, Bina Rothblatt.[26]

BINA48 was created by uploading the information, memories, attitudes, and beliefs of the real-life Bina.[27] Researchers interviewed the human Bina, and uploaded the results to her robotic counterpart.[28] BINA48 includes a database with dozens of books which she is able to recite.[29] BINA48 is currently stationed at the non-profit Terasem Movement Foundation, Inc.

Han[edit]

Han debuted in 2015 at the Global Sources electronics fair in Hong Kong. The robot was designed to identify and replicate human expressions. He is able to detect people using an array of cameras and voice recognition technology, decipher their gender, age, and facial indications of emotion (i.e. happy or sad), and as such, Hanson Robotics has suggested the robot could be of use in hotels or customer service positions.[30] Han is bald with masculine features. He possesses a British accent, dry wit, and specializes in making humorous facial expressions. At the 2017 Rise conference, Han and Sophia, participated in an onstage discussion about the future of human-robot interactions facilitated by Hanson Chief Scientist Ben Goertzel.[31]

Jules[edit]

Jules debuted in 2006 at Wired Nextfest. Jules is a lifelike robot that has machine learning capabilities, face tracking, and facial recognition and is able to hold natural, interactive conversations with humans.[32] His software was development by Hanson Robotics in collaboration with the Personality Forge AI Chatbot Platform, with Personality Forge founder and developer, Benji Adams, and Heather McKeen. Jules is described as having a “statistically perfect androgynous face”.[33] The robot currently resides at the University of West England in Bristol.

Professor Einstein[edit]

Professor Einstein is Hanson Robotics’ first and only personal robot available to consumers. The robot was developed in 2016 and was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January 2017.[34] The robot first became available for purchase to consumers in January 2017 after launching on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, and later became available on Amazon and at other popular retailers across the United States.

Professor Einstein is marketed as an educational tool to teach science, primarily to children ages 8–13.[35] The robot can speak about science, tell jokes, and connect to Wifi to check the weather or access information on the internet. It has a corresponding app called the Stein-O-Matic that offers games, videos, and lessons.[36] The robot is 14.5 inches, or 37 centimetres tall and its main source of computing is an ARM7 processor. It can run for three hours on a single charge courtesy of two NiMH rechargeable batteries. Motors allow it to walk, make different facial expressions, and an on-chest camera tracks faces.[37]

Philip K. Dick Android[edit]

Philip K. Dick Android was shown publicly for the first time in 2005 at Wired Nextfest.[38] He was designed as an android portrait of the American science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, and was programmed to contain thousands of pages of the writings of the author, including journals and letters, into an Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) corpus and conversational system construct android.[39]

In 2005, Hanson and team received an AAAI award for their "intelligent conversational portrait" of Philip K. Dick.[40] In 2005, the original robot was lost on a plane headed for San Francisco and was never found.[41]

In 2011, in collaboration with Dutch public broadcaster VPRO, Hanson Robotics developed and introduced a new version of the android.[42] The android bust uses 36 servomotors to create facial expressions and has motion-tracking machine vision. It is also able to hold complex conversations with people using artificial intelligence and speech software technology.[43] According to David Hanson, the robot “invents new ideas using a mathematical model of Philip K. Dick's mind extracted from his vast body of writing”.[44]

Philip K. Dick Android is currently dedicated to research with the nonprofit Apollo Mind Initiative.[45]

Zeno[edit]

Zeno debuted in 2007 at Wired Nextfest. The robot could see, hear, talk, remember, and grow intelligence over time. Zeno featured more than 28 specialized motors, an agile body, and expressive face. Named for creator David Hanson's son Zeno and designed as a nod to Astro Boy,[46] he measures 17 inches tall and weighs 6 pounds.[47] In 2012, an updated version of Zeno was released, which included Dynamixel RX-28 and RX-64 servos, plus a sensor suite comprising a gyro, accelerometer, compass, torque sensors, touch sensors, and temperature sensors, as well as more cartoon-like features.[48]

Joey Chaos[edit]

Joey Chaos was unveiled by Hanson Robotics at the 2007 RoboBusiness Conference and Expo in Boston, MA.[49] The robot was created to study human-robot interaction[50] and has camera eyes to track human faces and speech recognition software.[51]

Commercial Applications[edit]

Hanson Robotics aims to disrupt the consumer and commercial robotics market with affordable robots that have high-quality expressions and verbal and nonverbal interactivity. This would enable the robots to engage in rich emotional dialogue with people, conveying and perceiving feelings along with thoughts, and over time develop deep and meaningful relationships with humans.[52]

According to Hanson Robotics, the company will be introducing a new range of robots that will entertain, educate, and enrich the lives of mass consumers. The company will also aim to serve businesses and interact with customers in a broad variety of commercial applications, including building traffic and promoting products and services in retail, trade shows, auto showrooms, and banks, and entertaining and guiding customers in hotels, shopping outlets and malls, and residential developments.[53]

Publications[edit]

Awards[edit]

  • Gold Medal, Edison Innovation Awards, 2018
  • National Science Foundation Panelist, 2009
  • Winner of 2009 Italian Centro Nationale Riserche (CNR) Scholarship, 2008-2009
  • Winner of TechTitan’s Innovator of the Year award, 2007
  • Winner of TX State Emerging Technology Award, 2007
  • Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Best Design Triennial, December 2006
  • UTA ARRI Innovation Award, February 2006
  • 2005 AAAI award, First Place for Open Interaction (PKD Android)
  • NIST ATP Award, “Highly meritorious” designation, 2004 (with funding pending the 2005 Congressional spending bill)
  • World Technology Award, nominee and semifinalist: Best IT Hardware, 2004
  • Themed Entertainment Association, Best Themed Display Award, First Place for the “World of Disney Themed Store” at Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL, 1996
  • Rhode Island School of Design Merit Award, 1992-1996

Affiliations[edit]

References[edit]

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