She, Robot
Washington Business/August 17, 1998

Can a robot project perkiness an enthusiasm?

We'll know the answer next Monday when the Smithsonian National Museum of American History unveils its newest tour guide, a robot named Minerva. Described by the Smithsonian Institute as "an intelligent, mobile, robot," Minerva is programmed to guide visitors around the museum's "Material World" exhibit. Her tour of duty will run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Minerva, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, can detect the presence of people and invite them to join a tour. Visitors will be able to gain Minerva's attention by clapping their hands or by pressing a touch-sensitive screen. The robot is equipped with sensors, laser range-finders and a module that prevents collisions as it moves about.

Let's see how well Minerva tolerates large crowds and screaming children.