Obsessive Geniuses Strive to Create Almost Human Robots

Behind every Hasbro Butterscotch Robotic Pony and every NASA rover exploring Mars are teams of roboticists who've worked obsessively to bring their creations to life. In the book Almost Human: Making Robots Think, published this month, Lee Gutkind introduces us to some of the most prominent minds and memorable personalities among them.

A writing professor at the University of Pittsburgh and editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction, Gutkind spent six years, off and on, at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh researching his subject. He uncovers a surprising amount of actionfrom the RoboCup, in which Sony Aibos modified by rival teams compete in soccer, to the barren landscape of the Atacama Desert in Chile, where roboticists put a prototypical Mars rover named Zoë to the test. – Jenn Schreve