Robot SafariEU goes wild at the Science Museum

30/10/2013

This November, Robot SafariEU at the Science Museum will explore the fascinating world of biomimetic robots. Beginning on Wednesday 27 November 2013 at Lates and continuing over the weekend (30 November to 1 December 2013), visitors can trek through the un-natural habitats of these robots, interacting with creatures that swim, flap, and crawl, in a unique safari experience.

Suitable for all ages, this free, three day festival will feature 13 biomimetic robots from across Europe, with many on display for the first time. Inspired by nature, this robotic safari includes an underwater turtle robot, a robotic cheetah-cub, a shoal of luminous robotic fish and the unveiling of Pleurobot, a robotic salamander.

Roboticists from the UK and across Europe will be on hand to demonstrate their creations, helping visitors interact with a shoal of robot fish or stretch the Bat Bot’s wings while exploring the latest developments in biomimetic robotics. Visitors can also learn how to programme simple robots and build and race their own robots in a series of interactive workshops.

“Visitors to Robot SafariEU will see not just how nature can inspire innovative robotic designs, but also how these biomimetic robots are actually advancing our understanding of the animals and plants they mimic,” explains Nicola Burghall, Content Developer for Robot SafariEU. “We’re very excited to be able to showcase some of the latest European biomimetic robotics research here at the Science Museum.”

The Cheetah-cub robot, which mimics a cat’s legs and can walk, trot, bound and gallop, is just one of the biomimetic robots in Robot SafariEU. Lightweight, compact and self-stabilising, Cheetah-cub is an excellent research tool and has the potential to explore rough terrains. Built by the biorobotics laboratory at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, Cheetah-cub is the fastest running sub-30kg robot in the world, covering almost seven body lengths per second (1.42m/s).

“We are very pleased to be bringing Cheetah-cub to Robot SafariEU and unveiling our most advanced amphibious robot, Pleurobot, for the first time,” explains Peter Eckert of EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). “Cheetah-cub mimics much of cat morphology – featuring significant simplifications and better performance than traditional quadruped robots – while Pleurobot represents the next stage in our paleontology and robotics research, as we attempt to bring early tetrapods to 'life'.”

Robot SafariEU is free and suitable for all ages. Timed tickets are required on 30 November and 1 December. These can be booked in person at the Science Museum’s ticket desks or via 020 7942 4000.  

Notes to Editors

Robot SafariEU is part of Eurobotics week, and has been produced in partnership with EUNIC London (European Union National Institutes for Culture).

Robot SafariEU follows the successful 2011 Robotville EU festival held at the Science Museum, which was originally conceived by EUNIC London (European Union National Institutes for Culture), the Polish Cultural Institute in partnership with the European Commission Representation in the UK.

Robot SafariEU at the Science Museum

When: 27 Nov (Lates) & 30 Nov – 1 Dec  
Times: 18:45 – 21:15 (27 Nov) & 10:00 – 17:15 (30 Nov-1 Dec) 
Cost: Free (booking required for 30 Nov-1 Dec, via ticket desks or 020 7942 4000) 
Who: For all ages
Details: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/RobotSafari

Follow the event on twitter via #RobotSafari and tweets from @sciencemuseum

To request interviews, or for further information and images, please contact Will Stanley in the Science Museum Press Office on 020 7942 4429 or william.stanley@sciencemuseum.org.uk.

Experts available for interviews include: 

  • Nicola Burghall, Content Developer for Robot Safari EU, Science Museum
  • Peter Eckert, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland (Cheetah-cub)
  • Prof Kaspar Althoefer, Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems and Head of the Centre for Robotics Researcher (CoRe) at Kings College London (Stiff-Flopp)
  • Claire Rocks, joint UK Academic Co-ordinator for Eurobotics week

Biomimetic robots featured in Robot SafariEU

Bat-Bot - Centre for Automatic and Robotics of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain

Bat Bot uses extremely light artificial muscles to move. Its wings change shape during flight to efficiently manoeuvre. Bat Bot has not been seen in the UK before.

Robo Spyder - Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania

Robo Spyder moves like a real spider and reacts to its environment, including both sound and obstacles. The robot has also been designed for youngsters to learn how to program and assemble robots.

DodecaRob - University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania

DodecaRob is a dodecahedral 12-legged robot, which mimics the way tumbleweed moves when blown by the wind.

Cheetah-cub - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

Cheetah-cub is the fastest sub-30kg quadruped robot in the world, reaching 1.42m/s (six body lengths per second). Lightweight, compact and self-stabilising, the robot mimics a cat’s legs and can walk, trot, bound and gallop, making it well suited to exploring rough terrains.

Pleurobot - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

Based on a salamander, Pleurobot can swim, crawl and walk. Built in 2013, Pleurobot will be unveiled at Robot SafariEU. The robot will aid research into rich motors skills and early tetrapod locomotion.

iTuna - Centre for Automatic and Robotics of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain

iTuna is extremely simple, light and noiseless, using artificial muscles to move. This enables the robot to monitor underwater environments without disturbing local fish. iTuna has not been seen in the UK before.

ARROWS - Tallinn University of Technology, Center for Biorobotics, Estonia

ARROWS is an archaeology robot designed to dive to dangerous depths. This robotic turtle can operate independently, inspecting wrecks for hours before resurfacing, and has not been shown in the UK before.

Jellyfish - X-Projects Romania, Associatia Studentilor si Inginerilor cu Activitate Techno-Stiintifica, Romania

Built to mimic jellyfish propulsion, this robot will help scientists understand how jellyfish move and could improve underwater propulsion. Jellyfish will be unveiled at Robot SafariEU.

Piranha - X-Projects Romania, Associatia Studentilor si Inginerilor cu Activitate Techno-Stiintifica, Romania

Piranha was developed to help scientists better understand how fish move and to build more efficient forms of propulsion. Developed in 2013, this robot has not been on display before.

Amphibot III - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

Amphibot III is an amphibious robot based on elongated fish, like eels and lampreys. It can swim as fast as a human (even beating its inventor in a race). Future versions of Amphibot could help monitor water quality.

STIFF-FLOP - King’s College London, UK

STIFF-FLOP is a robotic arm based on an octopus tentacle. The robot’s soft structure and flexibility could enable surgeons to manoeuvre it around organs during keyhole surgery. It has not been on display before.

Jessiko - Robotswim SARL, France

Jessiko is a luminous robotic fish. In a shoal it shows how robots can work together and may be useful for studying the behaviour of real fish. Jessiko has not been seen in the UK before.

Salamandra Robotica II - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

Salamandra Robotica II is an amphibious robot that can both swim in water and walk on land. The robot was created to better understand how neural circuits inside a salamander’s spinal cord enable movement.

Free robotics workshops in the Creative Camp include:

Programme Wild Robots (30th Nov)

What do robots and wild animals have in common? Robot experts from the Institute of Technology & Engineering will show you how to program robots with simple animal behaviours in this 1 hour workshop. 

Robogal’s Survival of the Fittest (30th Nov)

Join a team and build an armour-shell for your robot. Watch as it defends its territory. Will your robot rule the stomping ground? This hour long workshop is run by Robogals from Imperial College London. 

Circuit Circus (30th Nov & 1st Dec)

Join our drop-in session and tinker with circuits and lights. Let nature’s untamed animals inspire you. Create glowing robotic creations and take them home to show your friends!

Robo Run (30th Nov & 1st Dec)

Build your own robot and race the competition on our racing track. Will you make it to the finish line and catch the grand prize?

About the Science Museum

As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. More information can be found at www.sciencemuseum.org.uk.

About EUNIC London

Network of the cultural institutes from the member states of the European Union in LONDON, as part of EUNIC. The network was established in September 2007 in London and has at present 30 members and associate -members who share knowledge and resources on a common European agenda. With the aim of further enhancing the awareness for European cultural diversity and creativity in the UK, we develop annual as well as one-off projects. More information: www.eunic-london.org.