RoboThespian welcomes visitors to the opening of Robots at London’s Science Museum with suitable drama. The life-sized humanoid blinks its pixelated eyes, moves its head and gestures theatrically as it introduces the exhibition with great enthusiasm.
But move on a step and the illusion is shattered. Behind a wall sits engineer Joe Wollaston, with a computer and a headset. From here, he can see and hear people
approaching RoboThespian through a camera and a mic on the robot. When he speaks, his voice booms out of the robot’s mouth.
Wollaston is RoboThespian’s Wizard of Oz, and this is a peek behind the curtain. “What you just saw was an example of our telepresence application,” he says after the robot’s introductory speech. “So it’s actually remotely operated.”