Robot Invasion at the Franklin Institute

According to scientists, robots will take over almost all of our jobs within 30 years. Even today, there are thousands of new robots replacing workers in factories and shops. The Robot Revolution exhibit at the Franklin Institute showcases 40 different robots, some of which will be buyable and usable in the near future, from cute seals to self driving cars.

PARO the seal robot and the Google Car simulator are just two of the many robots in the Robot Revolution exhibit. There is a robot that can mimic your motions if you look into its glowing eyes. There is a robot that is designed after a elephant trunk that moves with buttons and a switch outside its display case. You can also watch different demonstrations and events, such as a robot soccer game.

There are also many opportunities to interact, build or program robots. There are two robots that will play games with you; Baxter, the tic-tac-toe playing robot, and another unnamed robot that plays the game “21” (a variation of Blackjack). Towards the exit of the exhibit, there is a table with magnetic cubes with different functions (batteries, on/off switch, light, etc) that you can connect to make simple robots that do different things. There are also computer games where you can program a char on the screen to move through a maze.

Although many of the people at the exhibit are families mostly with children ages two to eight, this exhibit could easily be fun for adults going alone. Many of the more interactive portions of the exhibit are simple and easy to learn, making them great for children. PARO, the seal robot, was specifically designed for hospital patients, many of which are elderly people. There are higher levels in many of the games, as well, that would make playing them enjoyable for teens and adults.

One of the things that did detract from the exhibit was the fact that many of the robots weren’t working properly. A robot with a suction cup tip that was supposed to be able to pick up foam objects could not hold on to the objects and one of the screens on an interactive game was broken. Another thing that was not great was that the robots in the soccer game kept on missing the ball that would be passed to them by their “robot teammate.” The robot would just sit there for 30 seconds before trying to “kick” the ball, which made the soccer game slow and boring.

Over all, the Robot Revolution exhibit was definitely fun, even with its flaws. The entire exhibit is filled with positive energy, from both children and adults. There is much to learn and do in the exhibit, which makes it a great experience for everyone.

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