Editor's note: The following review was completed during the debut of "Robot Revolution" in 2015. The revamped version of the exhibit features additional robots, including the life-sized humanoid RoboThespian, a machine that solves Rubik’s cubes and a hexapod robot with six legs that navigates rough terrain.
Forget about the shotgun-wielding terminators and murderous artificial intelligence—the robots on display in the Museum of Science and Industry's newest traveling exhibition are the helpful kind. Gathering nearly 40 robots from around the world, "Robot Revolution" allows guests to see how complex machines are already improving our everyday lives.
Divided into four sections, the exhibit explores the cooperation, skills, smarts and locomotion that machines harness to complete a variety of tasks, ranging from picking up objects to playing tic-tac-toe. Almost every display is interactive—you can play a game of blackjack with a robotic dealer, make a miniature robot dance or snap together some components to create your own customized robot. Machines will track your face, respond to your touch and react to your facial expressions—it's like an '80s movie brought to life.
There is one major downside to an exhibit full of robots: Sometimes they break down. Fortunately, the museum has three robot specialists who are on-site to repair broken robots and interact with visitors. So, even if you don't get to witness a Recon Scout in action, you may get to see someone tinkering with it in the workshop at the back of the exhibit.
Whether you want to introduce your kids to a drone or watch a group of robots playing soccer, "Robot Revolution" is one of those rare exhibits that will entertain people of all ages. Take a walk through the displays and you'll realize that a future filled with intelligent droids and helpful automatons has already arrived, and it's as amazing as you always imagined it would be.