Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Ooh-arr 2 D2: Humanoid made in Cornwall bought by Nasa to become robot tour guide

By Daily Mail Reporter

RoboThespian can interact with a human audience and speak a pre-programmed script in 15 languages

He speaks 15 languages, has a cheeky sense of humour and can even do impressions.
And now this frighteningly life-like robot, built by a small firm in Cornwall, has been bought by Nasa to become a robotic tour guide.

The robot, who is known as RoboThespian, is powered by compressed air and is made almost entirely from aluminium.

Scroll down to watch videos of RoboThespian in action

It was made by Cornish firm Engineered Arts, which has only seven members of staff.

Unlike his rather more macho R2 Robonaut, that will be sent to the International Space Station later this year, RoboThespian will remain firmly Earth-bound.

The RoboThespian comes in three variations, the Lite, Standard and Deluxe versions. It can also be hired for events.

On the firm's website, the Deluxe version comes in at £79,500, which gives access to all of the robot's more advanced features such as powered legs and customisable content.

Nasa is to pay £70,520 for the robot to guide visitors around its Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral.

RoboThespian comes with standard greetings and impressions, to which you can add your own recorded sequences or bespoke content.

Two RoboThespians interact with one another. The robot's astonishingly life-like appearance has convinced Nasa to pay £70,000 for its services

It was first developed by Cornish firm Engineer Arts in 2006 to take part in a Mechanical Theatre production at the Eden Project.

RoboThespian made its official debut at the Association of Science-Technology Centers conference in Los Angeles in 2007 where it performed in a series of film clips and interacted with the audience.

It comes with a touchscreen interface that lets users pre-programme a series of movements.

Will Jackson, boss of makers Engineered Arts, said: 'We're very proud.

'It is a triumph for West Country technical prowess and engineering know-how. We beat some of the best robot-making companies from the US and Japan.'


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