Explaining what wonders an exhibition holds at a press view is usually done by the curator. Not so at the Robots show at the Science Museum. Fittingly we were addressed by RoboThespian who after a brief explanation broke into a song and dance routine
One the best British museums that I have been to outside London is the Bowes Museum high up in the Pennines at Barnard Castle. What has this got to do with Robots? I hear you cry! Well, it is home to a stunning mechanical silver swan that swims on a glimmering stream and then gobbles up a silver fish. The swan has swum away from Barnard Castle for the first time, he will perform every weekday at 10.25am, so you’ll need to get up early to see the show.
It wasn’t until 1920 that the word Robot first appeared, Czech playwright wrote a play entitled Rossum’s Universal Robots, taking the word from an old Slavonic word robota meaning ‘servitude’ or ‘drudgery’. The play is now forgotten but the word lives on. George, one of the first British humanoid robots can be seen, I particularly like his id badge.
Walking is second nature to us, but is actually a very complicated thing to do. Simply telling a robot to walk is far from simple. This Bipedal walker, with lots of dials started life in a garden shed, the result of a hobby. It was one of first walking robots. The hobby has now turned into a business with the Shadow Robot Company making ground breaking hand robots.
The final part of the exhibition is devoted many moving robots. Some of them are designed to do the exact but repetitive tasks needed on a production line. Others like the life-like lady, or Komomoroid, will read the news. Asimo is the world’s most advanced humanoid robot and may one day be able to interact helpfully with people. Many of the robots on display show off what the companies that make them can achieve, Harry the trumpet playing robot needs flexible lips, clever fingers and, of course, puff to be able to produce a credible sound on the trumpet.
Exit from the Robots exhibition is naturally through a shop selling all manner of things robotic, more unusual is the specially constructed café. It wasn’t open at the time of the press view but I want it to sell moon food. Robots started in London at the Science Museum after Edinburgh it will tour the world.
ROBOTS 15 January 2019 – 5 May 2019
National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF
Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
Admission:: Adults £10, concessions and family tickets are available