“Emotion is an ego thing” — inventor Sir Richard Branson

What’s more interesting than the robots in our current fad of mad genius devices for controlling actions with an artificially intelligent voice and eye gaze? Why, an individual robot.

For if the 90-year-old Branson is a true innovator then research demonstrates how present in society, these pioneering robots are, well, pushier. They have developed their own personalities.

For example, there is a chick robot whose gaze is coloured blue and its conversation purpose makes it good at playing games. The robot, named in honor of the late French science fiction writer Frédéric Andre, is used in research in Alzheimer’s and dementia. The work is funded by the French government.

And there is a baby robot called PocketWunderkinder which can be used with children to hold hands with them, just as parents can do with children. Specially-equipped babies can be supervised by officers with the help of a video link.

The robot is sensitive to human sounds and senses inanimate objects such as floor tiles. It can tell when people are close and if they are annoying. A young girl who was wearing the robot’s eye attracted attention by stroking the side of the robot in a way that made the robot pause. She was undeterred and rested her hand in the top corner.