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Robots enable web users to virtually roam London's Tate art gallery at night

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The UK's Tate Britain has developed the After Dark scheme, which enables anyone to browse the collection through a robot that moves around the gallery when everyone else has gone home.

Opening up access to art galleries and museums is certainly a good thing, but for some entry can be too expensive, galleries can be located too far away or the experience can be ruined by bustling tourists. While Google’s Street View Art Project has already brought brick and mortar institutions into the digital world by allowing users to virtually walk through its rooms, the UK’s Tate Britain has developed the After Dark scheme, which enables anyone to browse the collection through a robot that moves around the gallery when everyone else has gone home.

Created in conjunction with art studio The Workers, the initiative ran for five nights between 13 and 17 August. On those nights, the gallery closed to the public at 6pm as normal, but after all the lights were switched off, four telepresence robots equipped with cameras and the robot equivalent of a headtorch got to work.

Between 10pm and 3am, internet users could request to take control of the machines and explore the gallery for themselves. The robots were able to move in any direction and look up and down, while the camera feed was livestreamed through the After Dark website for everyone to see. In order to ensure the robots didn’t damage any priceless sculptures, they were also equipped with Roomba-like object avoidance technology.

Watch the video below, which acts as a trailer for the event:

The project enabled users to ‘visit’ the gallery for free without leaving the house, while also offering an intriguing and unique way to view the collection that acts an art piece almost in itself. With the internet winning the fight for our attention in the modern age, are there other ways to drive interest in important institutions through interactive and engaging stunts such as this?

Email: io@theworkers.net

Website: www.afterdark.tate.org.uk

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