The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has launched CSIRO's Robot project, which will let children Australia-wide utilise broadband to visit the National Museum without leaving their classrooms.
The CSIRO-developed mobile tele-presence technology consist of two robots which enable school groups connected to the NBN to remotely and independently control their own view of museum exhibits while interacting with a museum educator.
CSIRO said, in a statement, that the technology is the “first of its kind: interactive, mobile, wireless, dynamic, and accessible”.
Conroy said the introduction of such technology means that Australians no longer have to live near nor travel to national institutions to experience everything they offer.
"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," he said.
He also claimed it leads to great opportunities that help drive remote tourism to other culturally significant sites and museums across the globe.
Although CSIRO is in the early stages of trialling this technology, its digital productivity and services flagship director, Dr Ian Oppermann, said the technology has enormous potential for a range of other applications.
Oppermann said that the company’s goal is to extend and export this Australian technology as a platform for new services beyond education, and sharing its cultural resources. "While culturally significant sites and museums across the globe could use this technology, our goal is to extend and export this Australian technology as a platform for new applications in business, health services, social services and mining," he said.
National Museum director, Andrew Sayers, claimed the museum is keen to embrace the educational opportunities of the system.
"This project will allow for a rich and multi-faceted visit to our museum by audiences, including school students, right across the country," he said.
The robot trial is being conducted by the CSIRO at the National Museum's Landmarks Gallery.
A nation-wide naming competition for the two Museum Robots has also been launched, with a $500 prize pack for each of the winning primary and secondary school student. Competition details are available at www.csiro.au/nameabot.