A robot that responds to cuddles and kind words has been introduced to the public at a show at London's Science Museum.

The Heart Robot, who was created by scientists from the University of the West of England, responds to being held, and gets frightened when people shout.

The half robot and half puppet has sensors that respond to movement, noise and touch.

These sensors set off actions in the robot that mimic human responses.

When he is cuddled he goes limp and floppy in simulated pleasure, his eyes close and his "breathing" and heartbeat slow down.

But when he is shaken or hears loud sounds, he will flinch. His hands clench, his eyes widen and his breathing and heart rate speed up.

"Different children react to him very differently", Holly Cave, a science content developer at the museum who helped to organise the Emotibots exhibition, told The Times.

"They either want to hug and cuddle him, and look after him like a doll or baby, or they just want to scare him."

The show also included a six-legged spider robot called Hexapod, who records people watching him and plays back video on a plasma screen.

Cave added: "The idea of robots having emotions or a personality may no longer just be science fiction. How humans and robots might interact in the future is something that raises lots of interesting ethical and moral questions".