Day of the Androids at Hanson Robotics

I got to spend some time at Hanson Robotics a while back, talking to David Hanson and his staff and shooting photos for Robot Magazine (see the Jul/Aug issue for more). My hope is that the photos will give you an idea what a typical day working at Hanson Robotics is like.

The day I was there, everyone was preparing androids and other robots for an upcoming TED conference. In the photo above Bill Hicks is integrating an eye assembly into the head of Hanson’s newest android, known as Bina.

Several other projects were underway at the same time, including preparation of a Zeno prototype and fabrication of a new mini Einstein toy robot. Read on for a lots more photos of crazy, creepy, android stuff.

Here are a few of the more interesting photos from my day at Hanson Robotics. To see the full set of photos visit my Hanson Robotics Gallery on flickr. Also, don’t forget to pick up the Jul/Aug issue of Robot Magazine at your local newsstand if you haven’t already got it!

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Above, David Hanson shows off the Frubber skin for Bina’s face. In the second photo you can see the inside of Bina’s face, revealing some of the control wires used to actuate facial features. The third photo shows the android skull created using Hanson’s 3D printer.


Above is a shot of a partially complete skull for the Bina android. The white material is the skull. The dark material is a structural substance added by the 3D printer during the printing process; it is washed away after the skull is complete.


For comparison, David points out some of the features of one his early model android skulls. Bina’s skull has numerous design improvements.

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Here, Kevin Carpenter, Director of Hardware Development at Hanson Robotics, works on the android’s neck assembly. This is a 5 DoF neck that relies on high-torque RC type servos in a custom designed, metal framework.

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Above are a few photos of a full scale mockup for a planned interactive Albert Einstein android toy. On the left is a raw foam form. In the center you can see Loren Somen, the Director of Arts at Hanson Robotics, working on a mold that will be used to make heads for the small Albert Einstein robot. On the right is a painted mockup of Eistein’s body.


Bina’s eyes are test fitted in place.

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After a test fitting, Bill Hicks removes the eye assembly to make small adjustments and then refits it in the android’s head.


You didn’t think I’d forget Zeno, did you? David showed me this collection of Zeno prototypes.

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Richard Margolin, Jr. Robot Technician at Hanson Robotics, assembled one of the Zeno robot prototypes from parts to a power up test in about an hour while I watched. It’s impossible to tell from these photos but there’s a tiny CCD camera behind Zeno’s right eye.

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Everywhere you look at Hanson Robotics, you’ll see strange sights such as Furbies nestled inside android skull fragments, spooky 3D art, or what sometimes look like skeletal remains of alien life forms.


It’s easy to get ahead at Hanson Robotics! Sorry, I couldn’t resist…


Render the dog is a real biological dog, not an android. Render seems to enjoy hanging out with the eclectic mix of engineers, artists, and craftsmen who work at Hanson Robotics.

Interesting!, posted 25 May 2009 at 19:09 UTC by LowImagination »

Glad to read about Hanson Robotics. And good to see that Zeno is well under way. Does anybody know a Zeno release date?

And does anybody know of more articles of David Hanson other than:

Hanson. Exploring the aesthetic range for humanoid robots. Proceedings of the ICCS/CogSci-2006 Long Symposium: Toward … (2006)


Hanson et al. Upending the uncanny valley. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ARTIFICIAL … (2005)

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