Lindsey – A robot tour guide in Lincoln’s “The Collection Museum“
Lindsey is the latest in a family of robots developed by the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems (L-CAS, from the School of Computer Science), with others working in warehouses, on farms, and care homes. The robot employs the latest Artificial Intelligence and robotics technologies, advanced in research projects by the researchers at the University’s School of Computer Science. They have programmed the robot to be able to navigate the museum on its own and recharge itself, accounting for potential obstacles such as people, exhibits and bags left on the floor, while learning from interactions to develop a better understanding of what visitors are interested in. These advances are part of the wider project to develop robots which can operate autonomously around humans, and build upon outcomes of the collaborative EU-funded £7.2 million STRANDS project which created the technologies for mobile robots that are able to operate independently. The project is the beginning of a long-term partnership between Lincolnshire County Council and the University of Lincoln, to advance robotics technology to support the education of the public and allow them to engage with the latest digital advances.
Professor of Intelligent Robotics & Interactive Systems, Marc Hanheide, who is leading the project commented: “Despite all the progress in robotics research in the past years, taking a robot out of the lab and ‘into the wild’ of public space like ‘The Collection’ museum is still a most challenging endeavour. Lindsey will operate entirely autonomously and navigate the gallery on its own. We hope to learn a lot about the requirements for robots engaging with the public and the specific ways visitors are interacting with the robot. It helps us tremendously to further develop the long-term autonomy and adaptation of our AI-enabled robots.”
James Sharples, Business Transformation Manager at Lincolnshire County Council said of the project: “The Collection Museum is excited to be involved in this long-term project with Lincoln University. Combining history and technology Lindsey will add a unique experience for people of all ages visiting the site, making learning about the past more engaging and interactive.”
L-CAS employs Lindsey the robot to investigate aspects of long-term autonomy and long-term adaptation of robot behaviour in the context of robots in public spaces. PhD student Francesco del Duchetto is developing reinforcement and policy learning as part of his studies to improve the robot’s abilities to deliver engaging tours and to navigate the museum environment safely.