The National Museum in Canberra and CSIRO are trialling a virtual tour system using robots called B1 and B2. The robots, which contain telepresence technology, navigate the galleries of the Museum with a human staff member on hand to explain the exhibits.
Via a high speed broadband connection, the remote visitor can use a 360 degree panoramic camera in the robot to control their own view of museum exhibits. B1 and B2 have motorised wheels and sensing capabilities to follow the guide around the Museum's Landmarks Gallery which houses exhibits such as the original Holden motor car prototype.
The trial is currently being accessed by schools and libraries connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN). Students from Townsville and Kiama took part in a demonstration of the robots today.
The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) provided research and education connections at the National Museum and was the NBN service provider at the Cathedral School in Townsville.
The cameras and computers on board the robots allow each remote visitor to see and hear the museum educator and simultaneously but independently control their view of the exhibits.
Students also have an opportunity to explore additional digital content about the items they can see in the museum.
The Museum educator mediates questions, so that when a remote visitor is selected to ask a question their voice will be heard by the educator, as well as by the other remote students.
A competition has also been launched to give the B1 and B2 robots new names with a $500 prize pack for each of the winning primary and secondary schools. Details about the naming competition can be found on the CSIRO website.
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