Monday, 6 March 2017

Robots at the Science Museum!

The other week, me and Chris headed on over to the Science Museum to take a look at their new robots exhibition. This display was something we'd be eagerly waiting for - I first heard about it a few months ago and had put it into my calendar to remind us to come and take a trip. Then, a few weeks ago I was suddenly convinced that it was open so we headed over, only to find out that it wasn't afterall! But, at last, we could finally take a trip to see the robots.

 I did go to this exhibition with very high expectations. Robots are of course very interesting and I was looking forward to seeing the variety of what they would have on offer. I also visited the museums' last exhibition, Cosmonauts, and thought it was one of the best exhibitions I had ever seen, so my expectations were probably unfairly high!

Toy Robots
The exhibition is split into different zones. It starts off with looking at the early development of robots in the form of clocks and small toys - and also includes a very large and impressive swan! The swan does not move, however there is a video next to it showing the swan in action; and for that, I am sort of glad for the fact that the swan was immobile as the video makes it look absolutely terrifying!

Eric the robot
You can take a look at some of the more basic robots...

...and robots that were created to copy certain body parts or movements, such as walking robots or hands - one of which moves, and is very creepy!

Toyota's trumpet playing robot
Following that, you move on into the room that I imagine is the biggest draw for most people - the robots that are modern and futuristic!

This fellow here likes to interact with people! He correctly identified me as female and greeted me as such - while Chris got ignored entirely and just got blankly stared at until someone else came and stood next to him too! This one is a very lively and theatrical robot.

News reading robot
Here we have a newsreading robot - who ultimately, we just thought was really scary.

Not as scary as this creation, however! This robot wasn't moving, and is another one that we are glad for. This robot fills an odd sort of role - it is there to act as the voice of the other person you are speaking to on the phone, including moving it's mouth to replicate the voice of the person on the other end of the line. Apparently it was designed as such so that you could hug the robot whilst speaking with it, but we both just found it very uncomfortable!

Pepper the robot
This robot was probably the one who was getting the most attention, as he was by far the most animated. Pepper is a robot capable of lots of movements, and who tells stories to you through the use of the tablet on its chest. We didn't get a chance to interact one-on-one with Pepper, although we did watch others who were and Chris was very jealous of them all as he really wanted a go.


Learning robot
One of the things that surprised me is just how many learning robots there are now. This fellow is an example of one - he is connected up to a database along with the other robots of his kind. The different locations that have one will set him up with different items that he is able to learn to pick up and move around - when he has successfully learnt something, it can be uploaded to the database and shared with all the other robots of his kind. He wasn't the most successful while we were there - which made us glad that he had not decided to pick up the slice of cake that you can see peeking in from the right!

Robot brownies
 To add to the theme, robot brownies were available from the cafe when leaving. And they were actually delicious!

Overall, we had a good time looking at the robots. We both enjoyed looking at how robots had developed and having the opportunity to interact with some of them, and I was pleased to see that the exhibition contained some of the more famous robots that I had previously seen on TV - although, sadly, not live. Tickets start at £13.50 for adults, and I would say that the gallery is worth it if of course you are interested in robots. However, the exhibition does feel quite short, and unfortunately it definitely wasn't as good as Cosmonauts was despite the fact that I personally think the robots are a more interesting subject matter - but still definitely worth a visit!

Due to the fact that the exhibition is ticketed, only a certain number of tickets are sold per slot which means it shouldn't be overly busy. With the exception of Pepper we didn't have any trouble when it came to getting to see and interact with the robots - however in the interest of fairness, I will see we went midday on a week day so obviously if you go on a weekend your experience may be different.

More information on the gallery and ticket booking is available here!


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