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Doe-eyed Dreamer robot looking for friends

Dreamer, a Japanese-style humanoid robot built by Meka Robotics, was inspired by anime faces and puppy ears.

Meka Robotics

Visitors to the recent IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in San Francisco had a chance to check out this cartoonish droid from local firm Meka Robotics, and it's quite an eyeful.

The video below provides a close-up look at the one-armed humanoid. It's called the Dreamer robot and it's under development by Luis Sentis and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin.

The robot runs on Willow Garage's ROS and consists of several components, including Meka's S2 Humanoid Head, which houses expressive eyes and emotive ears. Dreamer's peepers are high-resolution FireWire cameras and its head can move along seven axes of motion.

The head was inspired by images of anime girls and the ears were inspired by a puppy, according to Meka co-founder Aaron Edsinger.

Its A2 Compliant Arm also has seven degrees of freedom and force-controlled actuators. It can respond to a touch or a push by yielding slightly.

That ability reflects Meka's aspirations to make robots that can be used around people. A spinoff from MIT's CSAIL lab, it creates robots and robot parts for university researchers in the U.S. and abroad.

It's interesting to see this rather Japanese-style humanoid being developed in the U.S. Lacking a mouth, I think it owes a debt to Hello Kitty.