Robots put to the Test at Blenheim Palace

Robots put to the Test at Blenheim Palace

Researchers from The Oxford Robotics Institute (Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford) are putting a team of robots to the test at Blenheim Palace as part of a new joint initiative.

The latest arrival is ‘Betty’, a MetraLabs SCITOS A5 robot, who will be interacting with visitors within the Palace over a five-day trial period.

As part of her temporary new role, she will go in search of visitors to interact with. As well as greeting visitors and providing snippets of information of the Palace and its history, Betty is also able to take photos with the public which she can then post on social media. 

She can perform up to 12 hours of autonomous operation before automatically docking and recharging. If successful, the plan is for Betty to return later in the year. 

She is just part of a series of robotic devices being tested on the Estate, ranging from driverless cars to legged robots. A specially-adapted ORI Range Rover, developed in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover, is already being tried out around High Park - home to the greatest collection of ancient oak trees in Europe.

It is hoped this collaboration will also provide a unique chance for cutting-edge STEM education and outreach work to be carried out within a hugely historic environment.

 Doug McCutcheon, Blenheim's Front of House Manager, said: 

"This is an extremely exciting opportunity both for us and for the Oxford Robotics Institute. Jointly, our aim is to increase awareness of the potential benefits of Robotics and AI to society in general and also to provide our visitors with a greater understanding of this fascinating and fast-growing technological sector"

The Oxford Robotics Institute enjoys a world-leading reputation in mobile autonomy, developing machines and robots which map, navigate through and understand their environments.

Dr Bruno Lacerda, senior researcher at ORI, said: 

"Having Betty at the Palace is a great opportunity for us to engage with the general public in a stunning setting. Betty shows how robots are now able to autonomously work amongst humans and allows us to illustrate some of the underlying technology we have developed with that aim."