following appeared December 16, 2006 in the
exhibit to open today.
Display at Science Museum to demonstrate
types of robots and the mechanisms that help them function.
Daily News Staff Writer
everywhere — hiding in plain sight.
not the plot of a cheesy B-movie from the 1950s.
are commonly perceived as machines with the shape and
mannerisms of humans, most robots bear no resemblance to Lt.
Data, the android in "Star Trek: The Next
Generation" or to David, the eternally young robot in
Steven Spielberg's "AI: Artificial Intelligence."
"We are very
far from having a robotic maid," South
Florida Science Museum exhibits director Peter Feher
said in reference to Rosie the Robot, the wise-cracking
servant in "The Jetsons" cartoon of the 1960s.
Robots come in
many shapes and sizes.
They assemble cars
in Detroit, allow people with vocal damage to communicate,
dispose of bombs for police SWAT teams, test thousands of
potential drugs simultaneously for biotech firms, vacuum
floors without supervision and, in the form of a red fuzzy toy
named Elmo, tickle children's funny bones.
"Robotics," an exhibit that opens today at the
science museum, explores the types of robots that exist, the
characteristics that define them and the mechanisms with which
4,000-square-foot experience, whose core is a traveling
exhibit from the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, is
packed with fun interactive displays that will entertain and
educate children and adults alike.
Feher said he
designed the Carnegie portion while working there 11 years
ago. The Robot Rodeo, another portion, comes from Seattle's
Northwest Invention Center, headed by former South Florida
Science Museum director Ed Sobey. The West Palm Beach museum
created some of the displays itself.
The two stars of
"Robotics" are replicas of Robby the Robot from the
1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet and B9, the robot from
the campy Lost in Space TV series of the 1960s. Local
celebrities will perform the voices of the robots this
weekend. After that, the two will banter about each other's
Hollywood career, Feher said.
cool," he said.
Robot" and the B9 "Lost in Space" Robot
both owned by HighTechScience.org's
founder Richard Newman).
During a recent
visit, Feher demonstrated the Race the Robot challenge. It
allows visitors to compete with an industrial robot to
identify from a handful of keys the ones that open a set of
three locks. The robot employs a camera and a computer program
to quickly identify the right keys by silhouette.
the robot usually wins," he said.
This time, though,
Feher was able to find the correct keys for his set of locks
quicker than the computer. He attributed his win to sheer
demonstrate robots' ability to sense the world around them,
manipulate objects and navigate their way across a space.
of robots to replace human workers, and malevolent robotic
characters in movies such as The Terminator and 2001: A Space
Odyssey make some people suspicious of efforts to hone
artificial intelligence, Feyer said.
"But we don't
have to worry about robots taking over the world — in the
next decade," he said.
With any luck,
though, Rosie the Robot will be on the market in 10 years,
ready to do laundry, fix a cocktail and run the household.
Until then, there's the
Roomba and Scooba — household robots that vacuum and mop
or call 832-1988 for more details.
For more information
about our robots, visit