Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Bonn created the robot, named Minerva after the Roman goddess of wisdom. The scientists hope to use the exhibitions at the Smithsonian to test the robot's ability to navigate a crowded room without bumping into objects or people.
Minerva is equipped with sensors that allow it to determine if something, or someone, is in the way. It also has two video cameras for eyes, which capture what Minerva "sees." The images then will be displayed on the Internet site for the Smithsonian museum's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation (www.si.edu/nmah/lemel), which is sponsoring the robot's visit.
In addition to refining the robot itself, the scientists also hope Minerva will help children feel comfortable with technology and familiarize them with robots. To prepare children for the new technology, they are relying on an old-fashioned trick: a box of candy will be placed on board the robot to encourage youngsters to approach.
The robot will be on duty from Monday to Sept. 5 in the museum's "Material World" exhibition, which shows the impact on people's lives from the use of wood, metal and synthetic materials.