The Italian Almanac

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Robby the robot

Italian News - March 21

A flaming-red robot will soon be guiding tourists round a Sicilian archaeological collection. The 1.5-metre-high robot, named Cicerobot by his creators, is kitted out with wheels, a keyboard, a monitor, video camera and sensors, enabling him to steer visitors safely through the rooms of Agrigento's Regional Archaeological Museum.

"Cicerobot is able to plan out tours in accordance with the needs of individual visitors," explained Antonio Chella, head of the Palermo University robotics laboratory that invented the mechanism. "His sensors allow him to guide tourists around the museum, avoiding obstacles and queues".

Cicerobot, who goes into action next month, will also be able to provide visitors with information on the different museum rooms. An internet node in Cicerobot's "brain" means he is also able to link up with people using computers outside the museum, offering them a virtual visit of the structure.

The creators hope that with time and improvement, the robot will become a substitute for guides and tapes in many of Italian museums and galleries. One such device is already being developed to provide extra security for archaeological sites. Equipped with sensor receptors, it is designed to move around the site collecting data from different sensor locations, ensuring the complex's safety.