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If/When Aug 11, 2020

Robotics: Creating Humanity's Mirror

Show Contributors: Dr. David Hanson, Drew Watson, Paul Thies


With today’s advances in technology, the concept of artificial people has taken enormous steps forward in appearance and ability. Some notable and celebrated creations include Sophia, Hanson robotics’ media sensation who has been featured on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and the cover of Elle magazine, to Valkyrie, NASA’s imposing 6 foot 2 inch tall humanoid who looks like she could star in her own Star Wars spin-off. In this episode of If/When we spoke with Dr. David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics and Drew Watson, JETS Valkyrie Software Lead for Jacobs.

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Episode notes

Dr. David Hanson is the CEO, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Hanson Robotics. David develops robots that are widely regarded as the world’s most human-like in appearance, in a lifelong quest to create true living, caring machines. He worked as a Walt Disney Imagineer, both a sculptor and a technical consultant in robotics, and later founded Hanson Robotics. As a researcher, David published dozens of papers in materials science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and robotics journals, and wrote two books including “Humanizing Robots”. David has been featured in the New York Times, Popular Science, Scientific American, WIRED, BBC and CNN. He has received awards from NASA, Tech Titans’ Innovator of the Year, and the Rhode Island School of Design. David holds a Ph.D. in Interactive Arts and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and a BFA in film Animation video from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Drew Watson is the Software Lead and Deputy Project Manager for the Valkyrie humanoid at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Drew’s work history includes roles at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the U.S. Intelligence Community. Drew has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Autonomous Systems from the Naval Postgraduate School.