In an interview, Cynthia Breazeal, director of the robotics lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and creator of the crowdsourced Jibo family robot, explores her life and career.
Breazeal was the child of scientists and became captivated by robotics after seeing Star Wars at the age of 10. Her first encounter with robotics was at the University of California, Santa Barbara when she was studying electrical and computer engineering. After reading an article about planetary rovers, she pursued graduate studies in space robotics at MIT.
She reports being amazed by her first visit to the MIT robotics lab, and after reading about the success of the Sojourner probe on Mars she began to wonder about what applications robots might have closer to home and became engrossed in social robotics.
She says creating a robot capable of navigating the social landscape of a home is arguably much more complicated than designing a robot to navigate the Martian landscape, and it was more than a decade before Breazeal decided to pursue Jibo. She views Jibo as a platform that enables people to interact with technology in a social context rather than having to devote their attention to a device such as a smartphone.
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