INNOVATION

Cheeky Knee-High Robot Is Winning Over Art Snobs

Aggie the robot has big plans.

18/05/2016 12:20 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Art Gallery of Western Australia
Aggie the robot is a little cheeky.
Galleries can be intimidating so the Art Gallery of Western Australia is introducing a little something to make the experience more welcoming -- a knee-high robot called Aggie.

The cheeky tour guide has an encyclopedic knowledge of art but that doesn't mean she'll always give you a straight answer.

"She's a bit precocious," director of engagement Christopher Travers told The Huffington Post Australia.

A Robot's Doing Tours At The Art Gallery Of Western Australia

"Aggie is trained to actually be quite knowledgeable about art -- she can surprise you with blinding facts and insight -- on other hand, sometime she'll cut to a quick answer and be like a young child almost."

Aggie's personality was fine tuned by Perth-based company Smartbots, and she is part of a programmable fleet of intelligent and interactive robots being used in hospitality, healthcare and retail.

While her 'siblings' work in nursing homes and schools, Travers said they wanted to use Aggie to delve into their permanent collection.

"One key thing we wanted her to get across is the secret history of pictures," Travers said.

"The story behind an image is intriguing but it can also create barriers. We wanted Aggie to make people feel less intimidated."

Aggie will conduct tours with a human guide and while most of her content is pre-programmed, she can interact with people, sometimes surprisingly.

I did expect some people be a little bit snobbish about it, but everyone we've showed her to has been really charmed.

"If she falls over, which happens from time to time, she says 'ouch'," Travers said.

"We want her to strike the balance between entertaining and teaching people something so they'll go home knowing a bit more about art.

"I did expect some people be a little bit snobbish about it, but everyone we've showed her to has been really charmed.​"

Smartbots chief operating officer Anitra Robertson said she saw Aggie as the connection between art and technology.

"We're passionate about exploring the potential that exists between technology and the arts so it's been really exciting to see how this project has come together," Robertson said.

"We'd like to think Aggie will play a role in inspiring the next generation of artists and creative thinkers and are keen to look at ways to expand on that as she makes herself at home at the gallery."

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