Heart of a New Machine

The little robot's big round eyes glow a happy green, and its antennae lean forward. "Hello, I'm Quasi!" it chirps to a small crowd at an exhibition held this past fall at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. "What's your name?"

"I'm Chelsea," calls out a young woman. Quasi swivels its head to face her and leans back slightly, as if to get a better view. "He's so cute!" Chelsea whispers to her friend, who also seems enchanted with the 76-centimeter-tall bot....