In preparation for National Robotics Week, an initiative of the Congressional Robotics Caucus, at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), which kicks off on Saturday, April 9, the Smithsonian Institution is in the process of bulking up its collection of automatons.
During Robotics Week, the museum will host live demonstrations of robots in action -- playing music, locating objects, etc. -- and present displays of robotics through history. The broad definition of robots that the museum has settled on means that its collection, which currently numbers fewer than 100 objects, includes figures from science fiction, like C-3PO from the original Star Wars trilogy; industrial robots such as the robotic arms that are used in factory construction; and even 14th century Renaissance automatic clockwork.
DARPA's Dr. Gill Pratt introduces Robbie:
On Tuesday morning, that collection grew a little larger and more diverse. Spark!Lab, a Lemelson Center project that seeks to educate and inspire curiosity in young people, hosted a program in which representatives from Velodyne and Sandia National Laboratories signed over pieces from their impressive robotics collections to the Smithsonian archive. Sandia is known for its miniature robots, such as MARV, which was named the 2001 robotics invention of the year by Time magazine. Velodyne makes robots that are significantly larger than those produced by Sandia. After making a name for themselves in high-end audio equipment, Sandia's executive team -- two brothers working together for decades -- participated in television game shows for which they built robot warriors whose sole mission was to crush other robots. Now, the brothers are developing innovative laser vision systems that steer cars.