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Carnegie Mellon Researchers Develop Nation's First Robotic Tour Guide For The,,Dinosaur Hall At Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum Of Natural History

PITTSBURGH--Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute have created an autonomous mobile robot that will be a tour guide in the world famous Dinosaur Hall at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

It represents the first time a robot will be deployed on the floor of a U.S. museum to interact with visitors as a permanent part of an exhibit.

The new tour experience is the result of the work of people at the museum, the university and RedZone Robotics, Inc. The robot is based on navigation technology developed at Carnegie Mellon. The museum and RedZone have worked on the integration of the robot into the museum environment by providing multimedia displays and docking hardware.

The robot, currently called 'Sage,' but whose official name will be chosen in a contest, has a dome-shaped head and an ostrich like neck set on top of a cylinder-shaped body that moves on wheels. 'Sage' has the ability to detect and respond to the presence of people and lead them on a 15-minute tour of the Dinosaur Hall using video and other information on demand in a multimedia format.

The tour will focus on specimens featured in the hall, including an Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex and several ancient marine reptiles. 'Sage' also can discuss theories on extinction and why some dinosaurs are so large.

"This robot is unique in its ability to function in a public environment without any human guidance," said Illah R. Nourbakhsh, assistant professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon and lead engineer on the 'Sage' project. "Over time, this machine will learn to respond to people in a more sophisticated way. The development of human qualities, such as personality, is uncharted territory in robotics."

"'Sage' is part of an initiative to augment the experience people have in museums," explained Robotics Institute principal investigator William L. (Red) Whittaker. "It will bring the dynamic, in
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Contact: Anne Watzman
aw16@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-3830
Carnegie Mellon University
26-May-1998


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