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Robots Invade Carnegie Science Center


Robot Block Party allows visitors to get up-close-and-personal with robots of all shapes, sizes and functions

Pittsburgh. – A robotic rover designed to explore the surface of the moon. An automated car that drives by itself. Robots that detonate suspected bombs. Toy robots of every shape and size. Robots designed to battle each-other like modern gladiators. And a six-foot robot named “Al” that likes to dance.

These robots and more will be on-hand at Carnegie Science Center’s Robot Block Party, July 19 - 20, a celebration of everything robotic.

Pittsburgh’s largest and most diverse public gathering of robots, the Robot Block Party will provide visitors the opportunity to experience real robots in an interactive manner never before available. From taking rides in Boss, an SUV that successfully navigates a mock urban-environment autonomously to controlling robots designed to crawl over collapsed buildings or inspect and detonate suspected bombs, the Robot Block Party will provide unparalleled public interaction with a wide variety of robots and robotic technology.

Presented in partnership with Robot 250, a joint project of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon and the UPCLOSE research lab at the University of Pittsburgh, the Robot Block Party will use nearly every square inch of space at the Science Center, stretching outside due to the size, and capabilities, of some of the robots. The Robot Block Party will combine a festive party atmosphere with some of the most captivating and cutting-edge robotics breakthroughs in the region.

“For more than 20 years, Carnegie Science Center has been a leader in developing robotics-oriented exhibitions and educational programming,” said Ron Baillie, Carnegie Science Center Chief Program Officer. “The Robot Block Party takes that programming to a new level. With our numerous partners in this event, we will present today’s latest in robotics technology in a hands-on, interactive environment. These are one-of-a-kind robots, and the roboticists that will be on-hand to meet our visitors are some of the leading minds in this ground-breaking research.”

Robots participating in the two-day celebration include:

* Al, the Alcoa spokesrobot - A six-foot tall social robot designed by International Robotics, Al will be serving as the official host of the Robot Block Party, circulating among visitors, answering questions about the weekend’s activities and, his favorite of all, dancing with visitors.
* Zoë, from Carnegie Mellon University – A solar powered astrobiological robot, Zoë was designed to search for signs of life on distant planets.
* Hazmat Robots, from Nuvision Engineering – Hazmat robots have proven their worth in exploring dangerous terrain, searching through collapsed buildings, and in the case of these robots, investigating suspected explosives.
* Boss, from Carnegie Mellon University – Winner of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, Boss is a fully autonomous SUV in which visitors to the Robot Block Party will have the opportunity to ride.
* Quasi, from Interbots – a two-foot tall social robot, Quasi is always popular with kids. This short interactive robot dances, sings, and loves to ask questions of Science Center visitors.
* Battling Bots – Visitors have the opportunity to take control of student-built battling robots in a custom-built arena for a robot show-down in this demonstration by Bots IQ, an educational program created by the producers of the wildly successful BattleBots television series.

A highlight of the weekend will be the attendance of Red Rover, from Astrobotic Technology, Inc. A hardy, intelligent roving robot designed by Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, Red Rover is the platform for a joint venture of Carnegie Mellon, The University of Arizona, and Raytheon to win the Google Lunar X Prize. The Google Lunar X Prize is a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to Earth. Led by Dr. Red Whittacker, the team will be attempting to land Red Rover near the Sea of Tranquility, the landing site of the Apollo 11 manned mission to the Moon.

In addition to the large robots in attendance, visitors can try riding a Segway, build and take home their own small robot based on the hardware in a pager, explore a wide variety of robots built by students over the past year, take part in LEGO robot building, and explore the North Shore with Sensor Safaris, portable packs of instruments and sensors designed to test the environment.

On Saturday, visitors are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite robot for a Robot Costume Contest. Special guest judges will choose the winners of a selection of prizes. Participants can register for the Robot Costume Contest in advance on the Science Center website or onsite Saturday before 2:30 pm. The Robot Costume Contest begins at 3 pm in the Science Center lobby.

The Robot Block Party is made possible in part by Robot 250, Alcoa, and other generous sponsors.


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