Robot guide at the Museum of Contemporary History of Russia

This employee never gets sick or tired and is always in a good mood. It can answer any question and tell any fact about Russian history with the accuracy of an encyclopedia. Alexander Frolov, Deputy Director of Science and Education department of Museum of Contemporary History of Russia, talks about the implementation of Promobot.

Promobot has been working in our museum as a guide since 2017. We called it after a Greek muse of history by the name of Clio. Robot’s name is an endearing variation of Clio ― “Cliosha”. In a sense, this robot is a muse for us too.

At the museum, robot navigates according to the tour route, tells interesting facts about the exhibition and answers questions. Its obstacle sensors were developed by Promobot team and they work perfectly ― all of our visitors and exhibits are absolutely safe from any collisions. Another advantage that it has over a human employee is its perfect memory and mood. It knows everything and it loves everybody.

We bought Promobot to attract more people into the museum. In a sense, this robot has become a part of contemporary history itself, almost like a permanent exhibit ― visitors always smile and robot can bring a lot of new things into excursions.

Just like every other person that works at the museum, it has its own tour route ― right now it’s the history of 20th-21st century Russia. Everyday Promobot conducts dozens of tours. Excursions for children and adults vary, too ― robot can adapt to the group and their preferences. Robot can interact with the visitors and do everything a guide would do while still being under our control. The amount of people can go from hundreds daily to thousands on weekends and holidays.

In three years, our robot has grown significantly both in technical and ‘intellectual’ sense.

For example, right now the robot informs people on when it travels and asks to clear the path for it, especially when it travels from one exhibit to the next. This was not the original function ― in the beginning, people would surround the robot, block its path and confuse it. Right now we don’t have this problem and robot can interact with the visitors much freely.

We are constantly trying to improve the robot’s service. For example, on New Year we added a greeting message, as well as a fun little survey dedicated to the holidays. Robot performed great ― asked different questions about the holidays, received answers and gave small gifts to those who participated.

People’s reaction after all these years is always the same ― first visitors are nothing short of amazed. Everybody is excited about their tour conducted by such an unusual guide. For us it is apparent that people have the most fun during their time with Promobot at the museum.

Colleagues treat Promobot as an employee. For them it is just like them, and a lot of people participated in the ‘assimilation’ process, helped Promobot around the new place. Of course when you see the robot everyday your excitement goes down, you’re not as impressed as the first few times. At the same time, colleagues are so used to the robot that they can’t imagine it ever ‘retire’.

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