Blockbuster Robots exhibition opens at the Science Museum in London



2017-02-08 11:22:22

A new blockbuster exhibition at the Science Museum in London explores the history of robots.

A unique collection of over 100 robots spanning 500 years will be on display, featuring everything from a 16th-century mechanical monk to an 18th century musical swan; famous robots from the silver screen; and today's cutting edge research robots.

"The latest in our series of ambitious, blockbuster exhibitions, Robots explores the wondrously rich culture, history and technology of humanoid robotics," said Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group.

"Last year we moved gigantic spacecraft from Moscow to the Museum, but this year we will bring a robot back to life."

One of the exhibition's star attractions is Eric, the U.K's first robot, originally built in 1928 by Captain Richards & A.H. Reffell.

Eric made his public debut less than 10 years after the term 'robot' was first used, at the Exhibition of the Society of Model Engineers in London.

(Images: Science Museum)

(Images: Science Museum)

On September 28, 1928 he appeared at the Royal Horticultural Hall, where he bowed and gave a speech whilst sparks flashed between his teeth. He then set off on a tour of the globe, entertaining crowds and dignitaries alike, before disappearing without a trace.

Having rediscovered original archive plans, the Science Museum enlisted the help of robotics expert Giles Walker to rebuild Eric for the new exhibition, funded by a £35,000 Kickstarter project.

"As the UK’s first robot, Eric holds a unique place in our history," said Ben Russell, Lead Curator for the exhibition. "He is everything we now imagine a robot to be – a talking, moving mechanical person."

Further highlights will include a recreation of Maria, the first humanoid movie robot and star of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, Metropolis; highly lifelike Japanese communication androids; Robothespian, a robot-MC fluent in 40 languages and capable of quoting Shakespeare; and a treasure trove of vintage robot toys.

"This exhibition explores the uniquely human obsession of recreating ourselves, not through paint or marble but in metal," said Blatchford. "Seeing robots through the eyes of those who built or gazed in awe at them reveals much about humanity’s hopes, fears and dreams."

Robots opens at the Science Museum this week (February 8), and runs until September 3.

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