Press Release: Roboy’s first birthday, a research project that inspires research, education and arts.

With the “Robots on Tour” exhibition in March 2013, Roboy’s very own Tour has started as well. He’s been to over 25 stations as an ambassador for a new kind of robotics and inspired people from research, education and arts all over the world. And he’s continuing at the same pace. In a close cooperation between the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence of the University of Zurich and the EU research project Myorobotics, led by the Robotics and Embedded Systems Laboratory of TU Munich, Roboy’s muscles, joints and electronics are being further developed. At the same time Roboy is visiting schools and teaches young students about the human musculoskeletal system and 3D printing. For all these efforts, Roboy deserves a treat: He wishes for a children’s book for his birthday!

Roboy on Tour: the Highlights 2013

One of the most important and extensive stays was the invitation to the largest conference on artificial intelligence IJCAI in Beijing, China. On this occasion a cooperation between research and arts formed: Together with the National Academy for Chinese Theatre Arts and the Zurich School of Arts (ZHdK) an evening full of theatre and performances under the topic “When Roboy meets the Art” took place in the Penghao Theatre. Continuing to Shanghai, a robot show has been produced together with the laboratory of Prof. Weidong Chen of Jiaotong University. It was presented to hundreds of interested children with their parents at the Science and Technology Museum Shanghai.

Another highlight was the invitation to the Soirée Suisse by the Swiss Embassy in Washington D.C. Each year they invite experts from economy, science and politics to a prestigious dinner. Rafael Hostettler, Project Leader of Roboy: “Roboy was a big hit with the audience – people were fascinated, and were very curious to learn more.  I received much positive feedback after the event – I’ve been told that for many people the robotics lounge was their favourite part.”

Also the four fairs (MOTEK, Stuttgart; Productronica, Munich; SPS/IPC Drives, Nuremberg; Swiss Plastics, Lucerne) cannot go unnoticed. Day after day Roboy showed his stamina and presented the products of our partners that have been built into him. Hannes Hämmerle, CEO 1zu1 Prototypen: „Roboy was the highlight of our booth at the „Swissplastic“ fair in Lucerne – and the eye-catcher per se at the fair. His construction presents the possibilities of 3D printing and what is possible with today’s technologies in a fascinating manner.”

Research and Education

In a very close cooperation with the EU research project Myorobotics, Roboy’s muscles, joints and electronics are being further developed. Therefore, Roboy will not only be compatible to the system and use the same software, but also both projects will be profiting from the developments in the respective other project. Another important milestone for the project is that robots like Roboy and the Myorobotics modules will be the central role-models for robotics in the context of the EU flagship “Human Brain Project”. Prof. Dr. Alois Knoll, Faculty for Informatics at the TU Munich, Leader of the Neurorobotics subproject, says: “The design of Roboy was a milestone towards developing soft robots that have a very close resemblance to and body dynamics of the biological model. Together with the technology being
developed in the EU project Myorobotics, it will provide a platform for HBP with which we can demonstrate the power of the concept of embodied robotics like never before.”
Furthermore, Dr. Denny Oetomo and Dr. Darwin Lau from the Melbourne University in Australia support the project with their theoretical knowledge and research results on tendon-driven robots.

We also continue working towards a cooperation with the Zurich School for Applied Sciences (ZHAW) to further develop Roboy’s components in bachelor and master theses.

The Roboy project is also interested in cooperations in other domains like art, economics and education as well.

Prof. Dr. Pfeifer’s Last Lecture

Roboy’s spiritual father and inventor, Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeifer will become an emeritus by the end of July. His farewell addressre will be held on May 23th at the University of Zurich. Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeifer, AILab, University of Zurich: “Roboy is more than a machine – he’s an icon, a messenger for a new era. He evokes emotions, fantasies and dreams.” Therefore, the Roboy project will not be sent to pension along with Prof. Pfeifer and the non-profit society Devanthro Society was founded. The society already coordinates the research and cooperations around roboy and will be taking over the hardware from the University of Zurich.

The Devanthro Society not only directly invests in the development of robots, but also wants to bring the fascination of research to young people. Its goal is to awake the interest in human-like robotics and to discuss the ethical and social questions in a broad context as well as reflect them in the arts. Devanthro is open to everyone that is interested and wants to support the realisation of the vision of human-like robots. It is possible to actively take part and support the society with ideas, do joint projects as well as give donations. The membership fees are directly invested in the development of Roboy and the projects around him.

Roboy’s Tour 2014

Roboy’s second year is starting with a major highlight: Roboy has been invited to CeBit and will be at the Swiss Pavilion at booth A28 in hall 9, thanks to the support of the canton, the city and the university of Zurich. Over 100’000 visitors are expected to see and interact with Roboy. The presence will be followed by Roboy’s attendance at the traditional Sechseläuten in Zurich, Switzerland, fairs in Munich and Parma, as well as an invitation to João Pessao in Brasil.

Roboy is also very happy that his theatre play “To be, or not to be humanoid”, from his inception on 8.3.2013 is on stage again: On the 6th of April 2014 in Zurich, during an all-day thematic event around the theatre play “ECCE HOMO”, as well as on 11th of May 2014 at the TU Munich in the presentation series “Was machen eigentlich unsere Nachbarn, die Forscher, in Garching?” (What are our neighbours doing, the researchers, in Garching?)

A very special highlight will be the pilot of the “Roboy at School” projects in the first week of July in Liestal, Schweiz. A day with Roboy in school? That’s the central idea behind the project. Devanthro, in cooperation with a sociologist and two high-school teachers develops a one day curriculum, where Roboy is leading through four modules: “Social and Ethical Aspects of Robotics”, “Anatomy and Musculoskeletal System”, “From CAD to the finished Robot through 3D printing”, “Building and Programming Robots”. In a playful manner important concepts and basics are worked out with the students and then applied through a contest on who can build the fastest robot. This way the students learn the important aspects to consider when building a robot.

Roboy’s Birthday Present

As a treat for all his hard work, Roboy has a wish for his birthday: a children’s book. The studied publicist and former spokeswoman of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Lilla Lukacs fulfils Roboy’s wish and brought him to life in the children’s book: “Roboy – A robot boy discovers the world”. The book is written for children aged 5 to 7 and tells the story of how Roboy learns about life. Those who would like to know more and want to help can support the project. It is funded through crowd funding on the following platform:

For questions and interview requests please contact:

Rafael Hostettler, Project Leader Roboy Project and president of Devanthro Society, Tel.: +49 1573 815 1620, Email: gro.o1490688553rhtna1490688553ved@o1490688553fni1490688553