18 January 2011
Automated meet and greet at NASA
A UK-designed robot actor has beaten off international competition to become the public face of NASA's world-famous Kennedy Space Centre.
First developed in 2006 by Cornish company Engineered Arts, 'Robothespian 3' stands 5ft 9 inches tall and has a full range of upper-body movement and human-like eyes. NASA has decided to employ the £79,000 robot's third generation as a figurehead to greet visitors to its Cape Canaveral base.
Robothespian 3's lifelike movements are powered by a clever combination of compressed air 'muscles' and Maxon motors. A combination of Maxon's high performance A-max and neodymium magnet-powered RE-max motors are used.
Engineered Arts director Will Jackson says: "Robothespian 3 is at the cutting edge of bringing technology into the arts. For him to appear natural and engage the audience, his movements need to be as quiet and precisely controlled as possible - but he also has cope with long hours, greeting over 1.5 million visitors per year. Maxon motors are ideal for this challenging combination of demands."
Engineered Arts is working on 20 more Robothespians, which will be completed by March this year.
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