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Zeno Life-Like Robot Debuts at NextFest

Zeno Life-Like Robot Debuts at NextFest

Honda’s Asimo humanoid robot may be in for some competition. Hanson Robotics used WIRED magazine’s NextFest expo to introduce a new robot named Zeno on Thursday, a 17-inch tall tike who can navigate, make facial expressions, recognize speech and more.

Zeno uses artificial intelligence developed by Massive Software, the company that developed simulated AI-driven characters for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Happy Feet and Ratatouille. The robot develops a 3D “mental image” of his surroundings and uses Massive’s code to determine how to control physical action. A body with 28 individual servos allows Zeno to lie down, stand up, gesture, open and close his mouth and eyes, and more.

Hanson also built Zeno with a speech recognition engine and conversational AI. These capabilities, together with his vision, allow Zeno to remember speech and faces and interact accordingly.

The ultimate goal with Zeno is to produce a robot for the mass market. “The technology incorporated in Zeno has a huge potential for the consumer home entertainment market,” said David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics, in a statement. “Zeno’s pre-defined movements and actions have unlimited permutations and he will get smarter and more aware over time. The goal is to bring it to market as a children’s toy, able to tutor, express and teach a variety of different subjects.”