Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Robot Trio of Museum für Kommunikation

U0204790 Lim Wee Kiang

Fraunhofer (IPA), Stuttgart has designed not just 1, but 3 robots for edutainment purposes in the Museum fur Kommunikation in Berlin! Each is autonomous, differs in its manners and appearance, and has features like obstacle detection and avoidance[1]. All 3 robots make use of the data provided by the laser scanner, and the characteristic shapes and diameters of a person’s legs and the distances between them are assessed using fuzzy logic.

In order to obtain its location, the robot uses a 2D laser scanner to determine its distance from the objects around it within a radius of 180 degrees. This is assisted by odemetric encoders – which measures distance traveled on two wheels [2] and a gyroscope for determining he direction the robot is facing. I reckon that if the locality radius is increased to include the full 360 degrees it will make the robot even more sensitive to the environment.

A differential drive allows the robots to turn on the spot and eight 12 volt batteries enable the robots to operate for more than ten hours a day. What about the off-peak or quiet hours of the day? I figured it would be better having the robot “rest” in a sunlight-exposed area, to tap on solar energy and alternate between cell and solar power for greater cost efficiency though.

The robots communicate by radio Ethernet and can engage in entertainment activities like finding a ball that can be “kicked” around the museum by the robots. I sure hope valuable artifacts have remained unscathed!!

The “Inciting” (centre) welcomes visitors to the museum. Whenever he “sees” new visitors, he drives towards them and warmly welcomes them to the museum. The robot can also tell the difference between individuals and groups. Using its laser sight, “The Inciting” can store positions of people and detect new visitors. This will allow the robot to behave in the correct manner to the appropriate visitors.

The “Instructive”(right) gives a guided tour in the museum, and while doing so she moves her head so that she “looks” at the exhibits she is talking about. On her screen she shows pictures and videos which underline the explanations. An improvement could be installing Bluetooth devices on her so that visitors can use their mobile devices to download museum information or maps.

The “Twiddling”(left) behaves like a child. It plays with a ball and welcomes people to join in, while making bleeping sounds to express its current feelings. By analyzing the laser scanner data, changes in the shape of the ball can be determined. This prevents the robot from bumping into visitors. If the robot cannot find the ball, it moves around at random and searches for the ball.

In essence, the “Inciting” and “Instructive” are very useful edutainment tools but the idea of “Twiddling” playing around with the children does not seem to be very apt for a museum environment. Over-excited young children may fall or get hurt trying to attract the attention of the robot. Perhaps its function could be changed to dispensing brochures, museum souvenirs, collar pins or balloons for young children while retaining its character as a cheerful playful child.

[1] http://www.care-o-bot.de/english/MuseumRobots.php

[2] http://www.answers .com/topic/odometry?method=8

4 comments:

Edutainment said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edutainment said...

U0205159 Du Xing

These robots definitely sounds interesting! Their usage can be extended to more than museums.
I especially like the fact that the "instructive" robot is able to show on her screen pictures and videos which underline the explanations, and let visitors download info from it on their mobile
I have been to a musuem before and often find the explanations not adequate or stimulating enough, such a robot would make it interactive and fun. Perhaps the robot can be made more reactive to visitor's requests and queries. This can be done by storing voice recorded information in the robot as answers to potential questions. Queries from visitors can be understood by identifying keyworks and then classfying them using neural netowrk.

Lin Zhiqiang said...

U0204912 Lin Zhiqiang

Inciting and Instructive robots seem rather useful for this museum environment but not quite sure abt the TWeedling robot playing around with a ball in the museum. ( a ball rolling on the ground could catch a visitor unaware and fall)

Using robots as guides is a good idea as this saves on the long Q n staggered timings for guided tours around the musuem.. also the robots could be programmed with different languages to cater to different groups of people. Instead of renting audio guides, now people can rent small robots to guide them around the museum and can also anwer their questions esp in huge museums like the Lourve in Paris

Security said...

U0300641 Yeo Choon Wee

Inciting and Instructive robots is definitely useful for museum purposes. These robots definitely could help to introduce about the artifacts for people who dislike joining guided tours which are crowded especially when there are special displays. This provide another option and may attract a different group of visitors.

As for the TWeedling robot, I think maybe use in a childcare corner to keep the children busy while parents can admire the displays in peace. It would definitely be haywire to let a ball roll about in the museum.