PITTSBURGH—A robotic pet, an industrial robot and three robot stars of classic movies will be inducted into Carnegie Mellon University's Robot Hall of Fame® in a June 21 ceremony at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh.
Actor Anthony Daniels, who played the robot C-3PO in all six "Star Wars" films, returns as master of ceremonies and Daniel H. Wilson, author of "How to Survive a Robot Uprising," published in 2005, will be the keynote speaker.
This year's class of inductees, announced in April, include Maria, the art deco star of the 1927 silent film classic "Metropolis"; Gort, the metallic giant sent to Earth to establish peace in the 1951 sci-fi thriller "The Day the Earth Stood Still"; David, the boy-like android who bonded with his adoptive mother in Steven Spielberg's "Artificial Intelligence: AI"; Sony's AIBO, a dog-like entertainment robot that became a research and education workhorse; and the Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA), an industrial robot that helped make inexpensive consumer electronic devices commonplace.
Participants in the ceremony will include SCARA inventor Hiroshi Makino, an emeritus professor at the University of Yamanashi in Japan, and actor Billy Gray, who played actress Patricia Neal's young son in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and later became a boomer icon as Bud in the hit '50s TV show "Father Knows Best."
The affair will cap the RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition, a two-day international business development event for mobile robotics and intelligent systems, produced by Robotic Trends Inc.
This is the third induction for the hall of fame, which was founded in 2003 by James H. Morris, dean of Carnegie Mellon West, the university's four-year-old campus in Silicon Valley. It highlights the contributions of robots to society by honoring robots that are technological landmarks, as well as fictional robots that captured the public imagination and inspired roboticists to make dreams reality. Inductees are chosen by an international panel of researchers, educators and enthusiasts.
"When C-3PO was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame, he felt his existence had finally been given the validation it deserved, rather than the brush-off usually awarded him by characters like Han Solo," said Daniels, a veteran of stage and screen who served as emcee when the golden android was inducted in 2004. "Now, I've been asked to return to Carnegie Mellon to host this year's awards. I feel validated as a human."
Wilson, who earned a doctorate in robotics at Carnegie Mellon's famed Robotics Institute, will tell "The Truth About Robots" in his keynote address. A film version of his tongue-in-cheek guidebook, "How to Survive a Robot Uprising," starring comedian Mike Myers, is slated for release by Paramount Pictures next year.
The ceremony will feature video clips of each of the robots in action and commentary by people who have been involved in their creation or their nomination to the hall.
Matthew T. Mason, director of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute, will join Makino in paying tribute to SCARA, a type of industrial robot arm that was introduced to commercial assembly lines in 1981. SCARA robots excel in picking up components from one place and placing them rapidly and precisely in a product.
Katsumi Moto, vice president of corporate planning for Sony Supply Chain Solutions, Inc., will accept the induction on behalf of AIBO. Though Sony halted their commercial production earlier this year, the four-legged robots remain important tools for research and education.
Anne Balsamo, professor of interactive media and gender studies at the University of Southern California, will welcome Maria of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" to the hall of fame. The transformation of human to robot — in this case, making the robot resemble the film's human heroine — has been repeated often in science fiction and the influence of Maria's art deco design can be seen in robots such as C-3PO.
Hall of fame juror Sherry Turkle will induct David, an android played by actor Haley Joel Osment. Turkle, professor of social studies of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, contends the emotional bond between David and his adoptive mother raises questions of what relationships are appropriate between humans and machines.
Gort, one of the most memorable pop culture images from the Cold War era, will be celebrated by his co-star Gray and by Don Marinelli, director of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center. The eight-foot-tall robot — whose mission of destruction was halted by the famous command "Klaatu barada nikto!" — remains a symbol of the lethal consequences of human conflict.
Carnegie Mellon's Robot Hall of Fame® is a joint project of its Robotics Institute and its Entertainment Technology Center. For more information, visit www.robothalloffame.org.