Monday, September 18, 2017



Robo Thespian greeted us at the entrance to Robot Revolution Exhibition

    The Robot Revolution exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry is back from a national tour and will be at the museum until February 4, 2018. and then the exhibit will be touring  across North America through 2020. 

    Robo Thespian, a human-size robot,  greeted us at the entrance to the exhibit and answered such pre-prepared questions as, How Smart are  robots? and Can we work together?  He said his goal is to work cooperatively with us to solve many of the world's problems.  Since his answers were preprogrammed, I was impressed with him but not as much as I am with Cortana on my own computer.

    Never-the-less there was much to be impressed with inside this special exhibition as considerable progress has been made in the development of robots such as three types of robots who will be life changing for medical patients.

    First was the exhibition on how invasive surgery is possible for the surgeon on a computer screen.   I took the two rods that controlled items on a screen and was asked to separate them into appropriate boxes.  I quickly learned that the two had to work cooperatively. I had already been exposed to this in more detail at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where it is already a part of their practice of surgery. The explanatory material said, "With a 3-D high definition vision system, special instruments and computer software, surgeons can operate with enhanced vision, precision and control."

    Second was the exoskeleton that can be used for people who work with heavy loads or probably more importantly with physically handicaps in helping them walk and move around.   A video alongside the powered exoskeleton device demonstrated a number of ways it could be used by the handicapped.  

    Social robots can be used for healing.  Some are capable of talking to patients who are lonely and for those with dementia who cannot communicate they can have soft animal robots whose heads, eyes and mouths move and who can be petted.  While it was not discussed here, I am aware of Japanese men buying female robots as lovers and sexual companions.

    Game playing was very attractive to the children present.  When I played a robot in the O-X game, he always let me move first and we always ended in a tie.   When  a robot dealer was working a casino table for blackjack,  he beat me two hands and then asked me to give my seat to a new player.

A game playing robot could be tied but not beaten.


After my two losses the Robot asked me to let someone else play.

    A robot with only a head demonstrated eight different emotions, including disgust, anger, and happiness showing the progress being made in making robots more human.
    I sat in the seat of a mockup of a driverless car that gave an excellent demonstration of the many things a car must be tuned into to safely navigate the streets.
     Drones appear to be much further along than cars and a continuous demonstration of a drone was going on with help of children from the audience.  Drones are being used for farming, fire control, police work, military tasks and a variety of other situations.
    Some robots were working to show how they could play sports like soccer, climb stairs and avoid hazards.   I was aware of the usefulness of robots in the military and had a grandson who while in Iraq used them as part of his work on bomb deactivation and discovery.
    The robot exhibition area is so active that visitors need to get a time card allowing entry for a limited number of people at a time.  When paying for my ticket on a computer I had to get a staff member to work the screen for me.  It only took her three tries to get the program to work.   Maybe some of us don't have the necessary skills for working with robots.
    This is a popular exhibition opening our minds to many ways that this technology is going to change our lives.