Two new CSIRO-developed robots are set to provide remote tours of the Australian National Museum in Canberra to school children across the country via broadband.
The AU$2.4 million funding for the robots was announced in the last budget. The CSIRO robots have motorised wheels and 360-degree panoramic cameras to tour the museum. They also have sensors to be able to detect and avoid obstacles in its path, and users can interact with the tour guide via video conferencing.
Students can access the tour through a normal web browser, and up to 16 users can sign into the tour at once. While the government is pushing the use of the robot as an application of the National Broadband Network (NBN), each outgoing connection from a school needs only a 2 megabit-per-second (Mbps) downlink connection per user, while the robot itself required a 10Mbps downlink connection.
"The Museum Robot is a perfect example of how the NBN is opening up rich, new educational opportunities to students from all over Australia, no matter where they live," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said.
"It means that Australians no longer have to live near nor travel to our national institutions to experience everything they have to offer."
Conroy said in launching the robots that the CSIRO would hold a competition to name the two robots, with a cash prize of AU$500 for the winning school. Conroy said that his preference would be to name the robots "Davros" in honour of the Doctor Who villain and the creator of the Daleks.
The National Museum this morning demonstrated the robots with primary school children in the NBN first-release sites of Townsville and Kiama.