In late October, Saudi Arabia announced that Sophia, a humanoid developed by Hanson Robotics, is the first-ever robot citizen.
Sophia recently spoke at the Future Investment Initiative, held in Riyadh, about its desire to live peacefully among humans. The comments belied Sophia’s past remarks about wishing to “destroy humans.”
Prestigious as the title may be, Hanson Robotics has developed several humanoids in addition to Sophia.
Here’s what else makes up Sophia’s robot family.
Hanson Robotics was founded in 2005, and its first robot was Albert Einstein HUBO. It was the famous physicist's head attached to a fully-upright HUBO robot body.
In November 2005, Hanson Robotics founder David Hanson unveiled his creation at the APEC Summit in Seoul, Korea. The project was a collaboration between Hanson's company and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
'The robot is the world's first android head mounted on a life-size walking robotic frame,' Hanson Robotics states on its website.
'Jules is an amazingly life like robot, something of a 'complete package' with a combination of interesting features,' the company states.
Even more than 10 years ago, the robot featured machine learning capabilities that enabled it to chat with humans with relative fluency. The robot also uses face tracking and facial recognition to generate emotions that are in line with conversational clues.
A computer in the robot's head tracks people's eyes so that the head moves as humans move around the room.
In 2007, the company's founder, David Hanson, produced a 17-inch-tall robot called Zeno, named after Hanson's son.
According to the company website, the 4.5-pound humanoid was unveiled at the 2007 Wired Nextfest, where it 'was described as an intelligent 'conversational robot' that will ultimately be part of Hanson's 'Robokind' line of personal, interactive bots.'
In the 10 years since, Hanson, a former Disney Imagineer, has released more sophisticated robots with human proportions.
Alice was developed to push the limits of human expression. The robot's cheeks, mouth, eyes, and eyebrows can all simulate human emotions of shock, joy, anger, and sadness.
At the University of Geneva MIRA labs Alice helped populate the INDIGO consortium, a major robotics research group that has millions in EU funding.
Originally built in 2005, the Hanson Robotics team rebuilt their Philip K. Dick robot to include more sophisticated hardware.
'By resurrecting PKD as an android, we seek to realise genius-level AI with compassion and creativity,' the company states. 'While we have a long way to go, even the early versions of the robot have made strong leaps forward towards this goal.'
Hanson, a longtime fan of the science-fiction writer, has made it his mission to develop robots on par with Dick's vision for future humanoid societies.
'We intend to push the PKD android until it evolves super-human creativity and wisdom and transcends in a spiral of self-reinventing super-intelligence,' he stated. 'We predict this will occur sometime between 15 and 30 years from now.'
In 2015, Hanson Robotics debuted its latest creation, Han. The company unveiled the robot at the Global Sources Electronics Fair in Hong Kong.
Han took questions from the audience and journalists in a distinctly British accent. The robot was designed to be as expressive as possible, containing many of the same mechanics that live inside Sophia's skull.
More than that, Hanson Robotics states, 'underneath his bald head, masculine features and somewhat sardonic smile is a humanoid robot whose primary focus is to serve.'
Professor Einstein, the second incarnation of the famed scientist, was developed for in-home use in 2016 and released in January 2017.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Hanson Robotics began selling the 14-inch-tall assistant to consumers.
Business Insider's Melia Robinson reports that Professor Einstein comes with eight motors and sensors 'that allow him to make over 50 facial expressions, and he connects via WiFi to a company database that feeds him information during an interaction with a human.'
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