Making Robots More Like Us - NYTimes.com

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On a recent morning Natanel Dukan walked into the Paris offices of the French robot maker Aldebaran and noticed one of the company's humanoid NAO robots sitting on a chair. Mr. Dukan, an electrical engineer, could not resist. In response the NAO tilted its head, touched his cheek and let out an audible smack. It is certainly a very French application for a robot, but the intimate gesture by the $16,000, two-foot robot, now being used in academic research labs and robotic soccer leagues, also reflects a significant shift. Until recently, most robots were carefully separated from humans.