Museum of Science and Industry

National Robotics Week

April 5, 2014 - April 13, 2014

Event Essentials

  • Ages:
  • This event is suitable for all ages.
  • Date:
  • April 5-13, 2014
  • Location:
  • Main Level, Museum-Wide
    Museum Map
  • Tickets:
  • Included with Museum Entry

The robots are coming! (And they're here to help.)

Join us April 5-13 for a Robot Block Party at MSI! To celebrate National Robotics Week 2014, we will be demonstrating several different kinds of robots from the U.S. and around the world, offering lectures from some of the top university robotics scholars and presenting special workshops and hands-on activities.

Times, locations and availability are subject to change. All activities are included in Museum Entry.

Robot Block Party on Twitter

Share your National Robotics Week experience at @msichicago with #Roboweek and #MSIbot.

Daily events (April 5-13)

Note: On some dates, NRW activities may end earlier than Museum closing time. Schedules and availability subject to change. Check at the Information Desk (Main Level 2) on the day of your visit for updates.

Hands-on Robot Displays

Available at times throughout the day in the Rotunda:

  • Clawbot: For those interested in robotics, kits like the Vex Robotics’ Clawbot are an excellent way to get started.
  • Cubelets: Cubelets are smart blocks that can be snapped together to make an endless variety of robots.
  • Double: This mobile robot functions as an iPad stand on a set of motorized wheels, and is controlled remotely by an app on a second iPad.
  • D+Ropop: Using a humanoid design made of corrugated cardboard, D+Ropop outshines standard mannequins because of its fluid and elegant movements when displaying clothing.
  • Paro Therapeutic Robot: Looking more like a stuffed animal than a robot, Paro is a soft, furry seal that has helped reduce stress for hospital and nursing home patients.
  • PLEO: A robotic pet dinosaur designed by Caleb Chung, the co-creator of the Furby, to emulate the appearance and (imagined) behavior of a week-old baby Camarasaurus.
  • R-One Swarm: Robots that work with SWARM technology, communicating with each other, and moving and behaving like a flock of birds or an army of ants.
  • RHex XRL: The XRL is one of the RHex series of six-legged biologically inspired robots being developed to study locomotion, gait control and sensor-based navigation.
  • Sphero: Sphero is the world’s first robotic ball gaming system that you control with a smartphone or tablet app.
  • Three-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper: Robotiq’s 3-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper attaches to the end of a robotic arm to give it “hand-like” flexibility—enabling the robot to pick up a wide variety of different sized objects.
  • Versaball: This unique robotic gripper is more like a bean bag. Its soft shape lets it sink down onto an object and then harden as the air is pulled out of the bag.
  • Winbot: WINBOT is an expert at one specific task: cleaning windows. It is made of specially designed materials that will not scratch the window frames or glass.

Live Science Demos

Some of our robot guests show off their special qualities (with a little help from our facilitators). Demos take place in the Rotunda except as noted.

10 a.m. – Double: Have a tele-presence conversation with a Museum Facilitator about robotics and things to do at MSI. See Double above.
11 a.m. – Grippers: Watch how Versaball and Three-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper can pick up things. See Three-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper and Versaball above.
1:30 p.m. – Double: see 10 a.m. for description.
2:30 p.m. – Grippers: see 11 a.m. for description.
3:30 p.m. – iStan: This lifelike human patient simulator is a sophisticated robot used for medical training. iStan can help us learn about our own bodies and teach medical professionals how to respond to medical emergencies. [YOU! Lab, Balcony Level 3]
4:30 p.m. – iStan: see 3:30 p.m. for description.

Weekends: Big 'Bot Blowouts!

Join us for presentations by some of the top minds in the field, more robots and their creators, and even sporting events! The weekends include daily events (see “Daily events” above) plus the following:

Saturdays and Sundays: Student Robot Team Demonstrations

See demonstrations as FIRST, after-school and hobbyist robotics teams present their work. Saturdays and Sundays (April 5, 6, 12, 13), all day (Rotunda).

Saturdays: Student Presentations

Presentations by university students doing cutting-edge research into robotics.

Saturday, April 5 at 12:30 p.m (eSuite)
Sonia Roberts, Anna Brill, Kevin Alcedo (Univ. of Pennsylvania): Robo-‘roaches: Six-legged robots that run like insects
Seoung Kyou Lee (Rice Univ.): Triangulation and Structural Navigation in Unknown Environment Using SWARM Robots
Craig McDonald (Rice University): Mobile, Wearable Exoskeletons
David Rollinson (Carnegie Mellon University): Snake Robots in the Wild

Saturday, April 12 at 12:30 p.m.
Arash Kalantari (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Alex Ansari (Northwestern University): The Next Big Move: The Technology Behind Robot Motion
Anastasia Mavrommati (Northwestern): Is the Iron Man real yet? The exoskeletons today.
Lauren Miller (Northwestern): Robotic Exploration: Searching for Autonomy
Nelson Rosa (Northwestern): How I Met My Robot (or: how an open-ended research topic turns into a specific robot)
Emmanouil Tzorakoleftherakis (Northwestern): Sensory Substitution and Augmentation
Craig Shultz (Northwestern): Touchscreens that You Can Feel
Andrew Wilson (Northwestern): Creating ‘Robotic Intuition’ for Physical Experiments

Saturdays: Professor Presentations

Presentations by university professors and roboticists doing cutting-edge research into robotics.

Saturday, April 5 at 2 p.m. (eSuite)
Dr. James McLurkin (Rice University): R-One SWARM Robots
Dr. Arun Jayaraman (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago): Wearable Robots for Rehabilitation and Personal Mobility
David Rollinson (Carnegie Mellon University): Snake Robots in the Lab

Saturday, April 12
Brenna Argall (Northwestern University): Assistive & Rehabilitation Robotics
Mitra Hartmann (Northwestern): Rodents and Whiskers and Robots, Oh My!
Todd Murphey (Northwestern): The Uncanny Valley of Robotics

Special Events

Schedules and availability subject to change. Check at the Information Desk (Main Level 2) on the day of your visit for updates.

Sunday, April 13: BotBall Championship

Let's get ready to execute function(rumble)! BotBall is a team-oriented robotics competition for middle- and high-school aged students who design, build and program the competing robots. All day (West Pavilion/Little Theater).

More Robots!

April 5-6 (Sat/Sun):
CMU Modular Snake Robot, ReWalk™, Ekso™,R-One SWARM, RHex Lite XRL

April 11-13 (Fri-Sun):
Topy Survey Runner, Variable Inertia Vehicle, Perching Micro Air Vehicle, Darwin, plus many more!

Events nationwide

For a full listing of National Robotics Week events from around the country and an extensive inventory of robotics-related resources and information, please visit, or

Museum Hours
  • Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas
More Information

Museum Location
Museum of Science+Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
1 (773) 684-1414
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