Robots invade Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

Robots invade Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

CHICAGO — If you visit the Museum of Science and Industry over the next 10 months or so, you likely will be greeted by RoboThespian, a life-sized humanoid robot.

You will also be "dazzled," the museum promises, by The Cube Solver, a robot with a lightning-fast ability to solve a Rubik's cube. You'll also enjoy watching Hex, a hexapod robot with six snake-like legs that navigates rough terrain.

They are among more than 40 robots in "Robot Revolution," a national touring exhibit that originally opened at the Museum of Science Industry and returned for a second viewing. It reopened Thursday and will remain on view through Feb. 4 in Chicago before going back on tour through 2020.

The cutting-edge robots — many of which have never been on display to the public — are from some of the most innovative research labs, universities and robotics companies from around the world. Museum visitors, in some cases, will be able to interact, learn from and play with them.

They also will see and hear from in some of the videos in the exhibit University of Illinois computer science Professor Steven LaValle.

"I have worked in robotics for decades," the computer-science professor told the UI in 2015, when the exhibit first launched. "I am specifically interested in motion planning, sensing and filtering, which has also informed my current work in virtual reality. By combining these technologies, there are seemingly endless possibilities in art, entertainment, health care, communication and education."

He also said he felt honored to be part of the exhibit to help explain aspects of robotics to kids and adults.

David Mosena, president and CEO of the museum, said robotics remains one of the most fascinating areas of science today because scientists and engineers are constantly pushing the boundaries.

"We hope that the opportunity to interact with such a wide range of robots will help people understand how robots become an integral part in helping to improve our world and inspire the next generation of innovators," he said.

The exhibit features four areas, with hands-on activities for visitors:

— Cooperation: Discover how engineering breakthroughs are helping create robots that can work with humans to enhance our lives. One robot, EMYS, mimics our facial expressions via advanced facial-coding technology. PARO, a furry baby seal therapy robot, has sensors that respond to the human touch. Museum visitors also may try surgical training simulation to see what it's like to perform a robotic surgery. There also is a robot exoskeleton that augments a person's physical strength and can be used by people who are paralyzed.

— Smarts: In this area, visitors identify how the machines are able to sense, plan and then act, while comparing and contrasting the ways humans and robots learn.

Here, they will see ROBOTIS-OP follow their face and make "eye" contact using visual tracking software. Another robot, UR5, has an arm that conceals an ability to learn. Instead of writing code for the robot, one can simply move its arm, and the robot learns to repeat the movement.

— Skills: Here, museum visitors may experiment with advanced robot "grippers" to select and pick up objects and watch the Fanuc delta robot select and sort items with precision and speed.

A Yaskwawa/Motoman dual-arm robot in this area challenges museum visitors to a game of 21, while Baxter, a robot developed to work alongside humans in factory settings, competes with museum visitors in games of tick-tack-toe.

— Locomotion: Robots move in a variety of ways, offering access to places where humans can't venture. For example, TOPY OSCAR can climb up and down stairs using long rubber treads. Visitors also have the opportunity here to create their own robot by assembling the basic components of one, using Cubelets.

If you go

What: "Robot Revolution," an exhibit featuring more than 40 cutting-edge robots and opportunities to engage with many of them.

When: Through Feb. 4.

Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

Admission: Entrance is not included with the general museum entry and requires an additional timed-entry ticket of $12 for adults and $9 for kids 3-11.

More: msichicago.org or 773-684-1414.

Note: Robot Revolution is supported by Google, with additional support from The Boeing Co., RACO Industrial, The David Bohnett Foundation, The Kaplan Foundation and United Airlines.

Topics (2):Internet, Technology

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments