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26 © Plastiques

26 © Plastiques Photography, courtesy of the Science Museum Build section of the Robots exhibition with ROSA in the foreground. LAST CHANCE: ROBOTS EXHIBITION AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUM Throughout history, artists and scientists have sought to understand what it means to be human. The Science Museum’s Robots exhibition explores this very human obsession to recreate ourselves, revealing the remarkable 500- year story of humanoid robots. Robots have been at the heart of popular culture since the word ‘robot’ was first used in 1920, but their fascinating story dates back many centuries. Featuring a unique collection of robots, from a 16th-century mechanical monk to robots from modernday research labs, this exhibition explores how robots and society have been shaped by religious belief, the industrial revolution, popular culture and dreams about the future. The first robot visitors encounter is an incredibly life-like mechanical human baby, recently acquired for the museum’s robotics collection. Usually made for use on film sets, this baby has no intelligence, making only pre-programmed movements (sneezing, breathing and moving its arms and legs) yet many visitors feel strong emotions towards it. In Robots, visitors also come face-toface with Eric, a modern recreation of the UK’s first robot, as well as Cygan, a 1950s robot with a glamorous past, and a T800 Terminator used in the film Terminator Salvation. The challenges of recreating human abilities, such as walking, in mechanical form is also explored, with visitors able to study the intricate mechanisms of the Bipedal Walker, rescued by curator Ben Russell from a forgotten basement cupboard, and Honda’s P2, two of the first robots in the world to walk like humans. Visitors can watch as mechanical forms spring to life and even interact with some of the robots on display. Inhka, once a receptionist at King’s College London, answers questions and offers fashion advice, Zeno R25 replicates visitor’s facial expressions and ROSA moves its camera ‘eye’ and head to watch visitors as they move. Every twenty minutes Kodomoroid, the most life-like android of its time, reads robot-related news bulletins and RoboThespian gives a theatrical performance. Recent developments from robotics research are also on show, with visitors able to explore how and, more importantly, why roboticists are building robots that resemble us and interact in human-like ways. The exhibition encourages you to imagine what a shared future with robots would be like, with visitors able to see the latest humanoid robots in action. Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group said: ‘Visitors to Robots will see the greatest collection of humanoids ever assembled. This stunning exhibition explores the fascinating question of why, rather than how, we build robots. To look through the eyes of those who built, commissioned or gazed upon these mesmerising mechanical creations over the past 500 years, reveals so much about humanity’s hopes, fears, dreams and delusions.’ Robots is open daily at the Science Museum until 3 September and is free for children aged 11 and under. The exhibition opens late until 22.00 each Friday (last entry 21.00). www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/robots RoboThespian © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum t h i s i s l o n d o n m a g a z i n e • t h i s i s l o n d o n o n l i n e

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