The SAGE Autonomous Mobot Project
The Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University


Sage is a permanent addition of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Dinosaur Hall exhibit area. Sage is a completely autonomous mobile multimedia exhibit built on top of the XR4000 robot base by Nomadic Technologies, Inc. It wanders Dinosaur Hall on a planned path and provides video and audio enhancements to the exhibits for museum visitors.

Sage navigates using a single color video camera. Artificial landmarks placed in Dinosaur Hall help it orient during its journeys. Sage also avoids all forms of collisions, using 48 sonar sensors, infrared sensors and tactile sensors covering the bottom half of the robot.

Sage must take care of its batteries' charge state, and so it is responsible for plugging itself into the wall at its "docking station" in the hall. It recharges overnight and also takes a one hour lunch break every day.

The biggest challenge facing the Sage project involves the level of autonomy we hope to achieve. Our goal is to make Sage completely reliable and self-sufficient. In fact, it already performs all of its tours completely without supervision. The next step is to make all aspects of Sage sufficiently reliable that human intervention will be required less than once per week.

Once we have a hyper-reliable mobile robot in hand, a world of research topics blossoms: we will dive into everything from long-term learning to human-robot interaction. Stay tuned for a series of technical papers describing Sage, our experimental results, and the many research projects we will soon undertake.

This is a PDF document summarizing Sage's hardware and algorithms, and itemizing every failure that Sage has encountered. This is a postscript version of the same thing (with much higher quality pictures).

Click here and here to read another article about Sage.

Click here to read an article about Sage's Grand Opening.

Here is the home page of another museum robot, this one built by Sebastian Thrun of Carnegie Mellon.

Here is a picture of Sage:


February 1998: Sage engineering begins at The Robotics Institute
March 1998: A Nomad 200 robot from Nomadic arrives on-loan for development
April 1998: The Sage XR4000 robot ordered from Nomadic arrives
April 27 1998: Sage makes its first complete tour of Dinosaur Hall
May 1 1998: Design of Sage's top half begins
May 15 1998: Sage's multimedia system is successfully tested
May 20 1998: Fabrication of Sage's top half is complete
May 22 1998: Mayor Murphy kicks off Sage's first official tour
May 22 1998: The creation of Mobot, Inc. is announced
May 23 1998: Sage's first complete day on the job
July 1 1998: Mood architecture is operational on Sage
August 10 1998: Adaptation architecture is enabled. MTBF is 5 days and improving autonomously!
September 1 1998: Adaptation has resulted in demonstrable improvements in Sage's accuracy. A paper on the subject is forthcoming. Recent MTBF is up to 10+ days. Sage has gone online in a preliminary web page:
May 22, 1999: Sage celebrates its first birthday. Pretty old in robot years.
December, 1999: A paper is available here in PDF format. Sage is 1.5 years old now and continues to wow its crowd. But now it has company. Sweetlips is pictured below and is now functioning full-time on the second floor of the Carnegie Museum.

The Team

The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Nomadic Technologies, Inc.
Redzone Robotics, Inc.
Mobot, Inc.

[ The Robotics Institute | Carnegie Mellon University ]

Last modified September 29, 1997
Illah R. Nourbakhsh (