Robot Playground

17 February 2009

Robots have taken over the Antenna gallery for the half-term holidays. We've invited four fantastic robots into the Museum - as well as the scientists who work with them. Antenna gives you the lowdown on each bot on show this week...

Robot Playground is taking place in the Antenna gallery on 17-19 February.

Image: Gaetan Lee/Science Museum

What robots are on display?
BERTI's a bot that gestures with its hands and arms. Scientists are using BERTI to find out how to get robots to gesture just like humans. They also want to know how people react to BERTI's gestures - so if you come along they'll ask you what you think about BERTI!

BERTI is a human-sized gesturing robot.

Image: Gaetan Lee/Science Museum

Nao and Aibo are two little robots that need help from people in order to learn. Scientists from the University of Hertfordshire are running a 'robot nursery' in the Antenna gallery, where you can help the baby bots explore their environment.

Nao robot on a play mat surrounded by toys. The robot's 'personality' is influenced by the way it's treated - just like a human baby.

Image: Gaetan Lee/Science Museum

Scientists have also brought along an expressive robotic head. This robot can hear people speak and recognise faces. It responds to people's facial expressions with emotions of its own, and can even hold simple conversations!

Image: Gaetan Lee/Science Museum

So why build robots with emotions?
Robots are likely to play an important role in our lives in the future. If they're to care for the elderly or help around the home it's important that they respond in a way that makes us feel comfortable around them.
'We're working towards the design of future humanoid robots that will be intuitive and natural for people to interact with, so that people will accept them to help at home as well as in the workplace.' Graham Whiteley

Graham Whiteley is the scientist who built BERTI and is in the Antenna gallery for the event.

Image: Science Museum

'The aim of our work is to develop robots that grow up and adapt to humans. If robots are to be truly integrated in our lives as companions or carers, they can't be just taken off the shelf. They need to live and grow, interacting with and learning from humans, to adapt to their preferences, personalities and emotional states.' Lola Canamero, organiser of the robot nursery.