Heart Robot

The HeartRobot project is a public engagement research project based with the University of the West of England, funded by the EPSRC. The intention of HeartRobot is to increase public awareness of the idea of emotions in robotics and machines in general. Current research is now producing some convincing and potentially intelligent machines which will eventually cascade down into domestic products and so it is important that the public have considered the affects of more human like interfaces.

The brain child of David McGoran, the HeartRobot is an animatronic puppet designed to intentionally invoke an emotional response. The HeartRobot is animated by a puppeteer but has autonomous reflexes in the form of blinking eyes, a physical beating heart, and hand tension.


HeartRobot’s physical body is made from polymorph plastic with a silk skin. Internal electronics consist of 5xDSPics using a CAN network, with a range of sensors from acceleromters and microphones to IR range finders and Q prox sensors.

My role in this project was to assist in the hardware production and design the cognitive intelligence which defines the overall behaviour. In addition to this technical role I also assisted in the field work where heart was given opportunity to engage with the public.

HeartRobot was a huge success and recieved internation press attention. More information can be found at the official HeartRobot website.

Heart will be part of the Arnolfini Super Toys exhibition in Nov through to Jan.

Relevent links:

Sun news article

Times online

Engadget article

BBC article