The Robot Hall of Fame

Pittsburgh, aka “Roboburgh,” has long been a hub of cutting-edge robotic technology, and Chris O’Toole downloads the details on the newest exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center, which opens this weekend.

Robots: so smart, so shiny, so smooth. They’re the celebrities of the machine world (next to the iPhone). So it’s fitting that the most glamorous and well-known machines have gathered in one place, at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center, so humans can pay tribute.

The Robot Hall of Fame honors movie droids like R2D2 and C-3PO, creepy HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, and a classic 1928 pin-up girl: Maria, the shapely robot of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. But it also credits real-word winners like NASA’s Mars Sojourner, the DaVinci surgical robot, and everyone’s favorite living room pet, the Roomba.  

The hall of fame is the brainchild of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, which inducts new members each year. It’s part of the world’s largest permanent museum show on robotic sensing, thinking, and acting. It opens tomorrow, June 13. Roboworld features over 30 exhibits packed with super-smart demonstrations of how robots collect data, process information, roll, fly, and build things. And it has a few lovable greeters, like Andy, a robo-thespian, and Athina, a sassy chat-bot who’ll converse on any topic. She even laughs at her own jokes, like this one: how many humans does it take to change a light bulb? Her answer: three. One to weep uncontrollably; one to cut its soft fingers while attempting to change the bulb; and one to program the robot to do it. Hey, at least we’re good for something.

Photo: Andy the robo-thespian via The Carnegie Science Center

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