October 12, 2008
A boy bot on a mission. Hailing from an “Inventing Academy” in the year 2027 where child robots learn to fight evil, an 18-inch tall boy robot has been sent back to present day to stop evil A.I.s from taking over the world. Apparently, John Conner has run out of reprogrammed T-800s and is reduced to sending toys back through time.
The next Terminator movie script? Nope. It’s the back story created by Hanson Robotics to introduce Zeno the RoboKind at the recent Wired magazine NextFest. The idea behind Zeno’s existence is a familiar one:
David Hanson, Hanson Robotics:
We want to be damn sure that by the time [robots] become as smart as we are, they have a conscience and compassion and that we are friends.,” Hanson said. “There’s no guarantee. They could be psychotic.”
There are other robots and projects that are trying to make living with robots easier and making our eventual mechanical successors friendlier, so Zeno may seem unnecessary. Then again, those projects don’t have the Terminator-esque back story that humans can relate to.
Living la Vida Beta. Zeno has been under development for the past couple of years, so he still has some technical issues to overcome yet before realizing his full potential. He already has the ability to “recognize” people thanks to face- and voice-recognition. Future abilities may include a WiFi connection to the Internet, and the ability to make and test theories about the world (conspiracy theorists, consider yourselves warned).
Hanson Robotics is looking to bring Zeno to market around 2010 where the full-sized (18″), fully-capable dude may sell for $1500 US. A smaller (6″), less intelligent version will be priced for $300 US.