|home >  Portfolio >  Cycler >  Background||5 October 2004|
Cycler Presentation Robot - designed and constructed by David Buckley
There are many situations in marketing, advertising and education where any approach by humans has become passť, but it has been found that humanoid robots can capture the attention of such audiences and deliver an effective sales or educational presentation.
A Presentation Robot can at its simplest be just a radio controlled mannequin, with a tape player for sound and operated by an out of sight operator. However, nowadays with the rise of technology the audience of such a machine is more likely to be looking for the operator than listening to the message and thus these simple robots are inappropriate for all but the youngest or fun audience.
While a fully functional C3PO (Star Wars) robot is as yet beyond current technology it is possible to build semi-autonomous robots with inbuilt personality which appear alive. They can play many different messages/songs/sounds stored on robust solid-state media, have a repertoire of actions to perform on command and meanwhile behave according to their particular personality.
A state-of-the-art presentation robot can, by a few simple commands from an operator, carry out a complete presentation unaided, allowing the operator to be in view and appear as just a helper to the robot.
Cycler is just such a presentation robot used by the charity Waste Watch to deliver a message to children in schools on the desirability of recycling. The effectiveness of Cycler has to be seen to be believed, as soon as Cycler starts talking, the children stop their whispering, focus on the robot and listen to the message.
Waste Watch approached Professor Martin Smith at the Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) with an invitation to tender a bid for three new Cycler robots. Martin asked me (David Buckley) to help him cost a proposal and that proposal won the bid. Martin handled the negotiation, health and safety, public liability, financing, contractual and insurance issues and subcontracted the detail design and build to me. Martin said "David Buckley is the only person I knew I could trust to design and build three robots from scratch, in the short time available, at a reasonable cost, that would be sufficiently reliable".