My friend Alexis Block has invented HuggieBot, a robot that hugs! She’s allowed me to take a peek into her life to tell the story of how she faced bullying, gender stereotypes and overcame extreme heartache to take top honors in the field of (HRI) human-robot interaction.
Lexi has always loved being a ballerina and building forts. Her tinkering with toys blossomed into winning science fair projects and Battlebot competition awards. Going through a difficult time while at college far from home, the craving for comfort from loved ones sparked the idea to invent a hugging robot.
She is currently a doctoral fellow with the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems in Zurich, Switzerland working to make her robot even better. HuggieBot 2.0 will have a computer screen for a face and will be able to show a picture or streaming video of a family member.
…stay tuned for more of the story!