Unique exhibit provides glimpse of robotic future

Feb 17, 2006

Picture a computer with no keyboard, mouse or monitor... just projected light, and a space that behaves like magic. But this is no figment of the imagination. It is Robot Ships, a unique exhibit, designed and produced by the Department of Electronics at the University of York, which will be unveiled this week at Connect, the new science and technology gallery at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh.

Robot Ships, which goes live on 16 February 2006, uses the technology of Video Augmented Environments to create a tabletop ocean. Simply by touch, users can help or hinder robotic boats to work together to clean up oil spills, caused by virtual ocean tankers running aground on islands in the tabletop ocean.

The autonomous seeker robots search for toxic spills which are then cleaned by cleaning ships. The exhibit illustrates how robots of the future will co-operate in a way that is based on the behaviour of living things.

Connect forms part of National Museums of Scotland's 15 year vision for the development of its flagship Edinburgh site. It will be a free and permanent addition to the Royal Museum and uses a unique blend of iconic historical objects, multimedia and interactive exhibits to cover topics ranging from energy and power, space technology and transport to robots and genetics. It has been designed to have wide appeal, particularly for families and schools as an important new educational resource.

Robot Ships was commissioned by Connect Gallery project manager, Lyndsey Clarke, following the success of earlier Video Augmented Environments produced in the Electronics Department at York.

The York project team - Justen Hyde, John Mateer, Dan Parnham, John Robinson and Steve Smith - created the exhibit, working with a furniture designer, a graphic designer, a learning consultant, audio-visual professionals and the museum.

Professor Robinson said: "The technology behind Robot Ships is computer vision - a video camera watches everything that happens on the table and real-time processing works out how the boats' world is affected.

"Earlier public 'video augmented environments' have been in carefully controlled lighting, usually in darkened rooms. But Robot Ships must work continuously in a gallery whose ceiling is mainly a large skylight. This meant we had to devise new video analysis methods to adapt reliably to changing illumination and shadows."

Creating Robot Ships has provided new research insights that the team is already using in other video augmented environments. Robot Ships also relies on "OpenIllusionist", an Open Source programming library invented by team members Dan Parnham and Justen Hyde.

Connect is at the Royal Museum, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. For more information go to www.nms.ac.uk/connect

Source: University of York

Explore further: Kyocera to bring solar farm transformation to idle golf course

Related Stories

At E3, creators highlight virtual reality's progress

Jun 19, 2015

It's really happening. At this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the video game industry's annual trade show at the Los Angeles Convention Center, several hardware and software creators highlighted the ...

Throw-and-go Lily captures actions, to ship February

May 13, 2015

Lily Robotics, based in Menlo Park, California, on Tuesday unveiled the Lily throw-and-shoot camera. Lily can start following you and record video as soon as you throw it in the air. Its makers say it can ...

100 days to Andreas Mogensen's mission

May 25, 2015

The 100-day countdown begins today for ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen's visit to the International Space Station. Following launch on 1 September, he will test new technologies and deliver a fresh spacecraft ...

Recommended for you

Solar Impulse 2 pilot becomes aviation legend

Jul 04, 2015

At 62 years of age, Swiss Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with a record breaking solo flight across the Pacific that he has called "an interior journey".

Facegloria: Facebook for Brazil's Evangelicals

Jul 04, 2015

Fluffy clouds waft across a blue sky as you log in and while you chat with friends, Gospel music rings out: welcome to Facegloria, the social network for Brazilian Evangelicals.

Mexico City proposes regulations for Uber

Jul 04, 2015

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.