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The Fenn brings a “ball” to Ian.

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Ian Danforth.

Ian Danforth has created a robot he hopes change how people, mainly children, think about and interact with robots. It’s called the Fenn. Ian, founder of Embodied AI,  has written a children’s story about our contact with an alien planet and the creatures who live there. The Fenn is the robotic embodiment of one of those creatures.

In addition to outfitting the Fenn with a forward facing camera that allow it to recognize faces and other sensors, Ian is currently adding touch sensors and LEDs that light up in a flowing fashion when someone pets it. He’s out to create a robot that is more like a pet than a machine.

“I think if you start with a good, touching story and a child-like attitude you’re less likely to build something dangerous and more likely to build something that is beneficial for humanity,” Ian says.

Ian and the Fenn will be at Maker Faire Bay Area this month. Have a look.

m34 cover1 Introducing the Fenn, a Touchy Feely Robot

MAKE Volume 34: Join the robot uprising! As MAKE's Volume 34 makes clear, there’s never been a better time to delve into robotics, whether you’re a tinkerer or a more serious explorer. With the powerful tools and expertise now available, the next great leap in robot evolution is just as likely to come from your garage as a research lab. The current issue of MAKE will get you started. Explore robot prototyping systems, ride along with the inventors of the OpenROV submersible, and learn how you can 3D-print your own cutting-edge humanoid robot for half the price. Plus, build a coffee-can Arduino robot, a lip balm linear actuator, a smartphone servo controller, and much more

On newsstands now, by subscription, or available in the Maker Shed

Buy now!

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.


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