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Spend a few minutes as a robotic museum tourist

Spend a few minutes as a robotic museum tourist


The Tate Britain is letting people pilot robots for an after-hours tour

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Last night, I heard one of those sentences you're sure you'll never hear again: "Robot two is moving through the Tudor galleries."

"Robot two is moving through the Tudor galleries."

The Tate Britain, a London art museum, is mid-way through an audacious experiment, letting tourists across the world pilot robots around the museum during off-hours. To participate in the project, called After Dark, you visit the project's website during dedicated hours, and tune in as four telepresence robots scurry around the floor, taking in the culture. If you type in your name, the robots may choose you to participate. You'll end up deciding what to examine as a cheery duo of curators informs the audience what the robots are looking at.

The result's disorienting at times, as you swirl between four viewpoints, simultaneously observing modern sculptures and classic 18th-century paintings, but it's also worthwhile: you're guaranteed to learn something with four cameras rolling through. Even if you're not into art, the weirdness of the project itself is enjoyable enough. At one point, two of the robots in the dark museum stopped looking at paintings and started looking at each other. That may have been the most artistic moment of the tour.

The project is running for three more nights.