Wonderful shows from the Demonstration Stream Group

From 13:15 until 15.45, six groups from the Demonstration stream have given wonderful shows in the large public rooms of At-Bristol. Wonderful, but insanely chaotic and hectic! There were many people walking around, visiting the mini-exhibitions — as we like to call them — from the Demonstration team. The New Media stream group was responsible for recording everything from the exhibitions. Photos and videos can be viewed in this blog entry, so that the reader can get an impression of what exactly has been done in the past few days in the Walking with Robots workshop and what the results are.

The New Media group was split into teams and each team member has their own role: photographer, cameraman, storywriter and supervisor. This team was responsible for recording various exhibitions, activities and presentations, each of which will be described below.

Robots are designed to do one thing well

This exhibition shows that robots are often made for the purpose of doing things that they are good at; or, in other words, doing things they have been designed for. In this exhibition, there is a video shown on a laptop of a robot that uses a tennis racket to keep a tennis ball up in the air by constantly softly and swiftly hitting it from the bottom. A large difference can be seen when humans are asked to do the same task. The participants are not as good as the robot itself, as illustrated in the video given below. This is the reason why some tasks can be better left to robots, as they are capable of performing extremely precise tasks with high accuracy, something that humans are not always capable of.

Robots will only do what you tell them to do

During this exhibition, visitors were asked to command a “robot” to do things, such as eating food or walking around. The idea behind this exhibition is that a robot cannot do anything else but whatever it is told to do. It is designed for that purpose, to serve the humans. That is what robotics will be like for the upcoming long time: doing things exactly as they are told, with some exceptions aside (e.g., NASA robots, Sony’s Aibo robots and Honda’s Asimo robots). However, things are surely to change when robots become so advanced that they can think on their own and are capable of performing autonomous tasks without getting humans involved. The Three Laws of Robotics will need to be programmed when technology gets that far (see also Wikipedia). Until then, there is no need to worry about such things.

that's interesting...
She finds it interesting.

A simple change in what a robot needs to do can change the design totally

The idea behind this exhibition is that a small change in the task of a robot can require a large change in the robot’s design. In order to illustrate that, three kinds of terrains of the planet Mars have been designed, on each of which a robot is required to navigate. Instead of an actual robot, however, balls of various sizes are used. They represent robots of different sizes. The terrains have holes. The first terrain has small holes, so small and big robots can walk there without falling through the holes. The second terrain has bigger holes, so only the large ball can travel across the terrain. However, the third and last terrain has a large abyss and requires a robot that can fly or jump over it. The changes in terrains therefore require a completely different design of the robots. This is a very simple but incredibly intuitive idea!

A kid is fascinated about what is being shown and told.

Rights of the robot

Another surprising activity was a robot walking around in the public rooms of At-Bristol, with everyone lining up behind it, carrying large signs. The purpose of this “demonstration” is to “fight” for the rights of the robot. The kids were invited to participate and in return they got a nice badge! They loved it! Some visual material is shown below.

Campaigning for robots
He loves robots!

She loves robots!

Design your own biomimetic robot

In this activity, children were asked to draw a biomimetic robot, which is a robot that has the abilities that exist in living creatures, such as the way of movement or their actions. Basically, the nature is mimicked in the design of the robot. The children used their imagintion and their experience in the field of nature to draw such a robot. Various surprisingly different drawings came out. There was even one child that was so much into the drawing that he did not want to leave, not even when his mum asked him to! Talk about determination!

Biomimetic Robot drawing #2
Biomimetic robot drawing.

Bimimetic robot wall
Many biomimetic robot drawings.

No, I want to stay
“No, I want to stay!”

Online quiz about robotics

In this activity, visitors could test their knowledge about robots and robotics in general by participating in an online quiz. A number of questions needed to be answered by the visitors and then they’d get a score of their knowledge. The results seem to vary much amongst the people.

Filling in the survey
Filling in the quiz and completely absorbed by it.

In the end, the exhibitions were a success and we were able to cover most of them by writing about them and providing photos and videos. It was very interesting to work in such an environment. Although things were rather chaotic, we were able to stay cool — with the exception of the rather shaky camera movements in the videos, apparently — and finish up our story on this blog!


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