Founder, Personal Robots Group, MIT Media Lab
When you think of the word "robot," you probably picture social 'bots like Rosie, the Jetson's maid, and Star Wars' C-3PO. Cynthia Breazeal, an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, is working to make your humanoid robot dreams a reality. Dr. Breazeal is the founder and director of the Personal Robots Group at MIT's Media Lab, a program that develops the techniques and technologies necessary to develop personal robots.
Her most famous robot is Kismet, the first robot designed to engage humans in expressive, natural interactions. Kismet, built as part of Breazeal's doctoral thesis at MIT, was dubbed one of the "50 Best Robots Ever" by Wired Magazine in 2006. Other robots emerging from Breazeal's lab include Leonardo, another expressive robot; Autom, a robot designed to help people lose weight; and RoCo, a robotic computer that can adjust its "posture." So if you see a friendly robot walking down the street 20 years from now, Breazeal might be partially to thank. —Ariel Schwartz