Entering the mind of a robot. This is the experience enabled by the installation “A View from Within”, set up at Museo Leonardiano in Vinci (Florence), in the exhibition space in via Montalbano 6, from December 3 to March 6. The exhibition, realised by the Institute of Mechanical Intelligence of the Sant'Anna School in Pisa, proposes a series of integrated video-installations showing different levels of the cognitive and perceptual processes running within a robot during the execution of a simple action, such as picking up an object or interacting with surrounding humans.
For the first time ever, the observer, physically located inside the visualization space, can “experience” the perceptive processes of the robotic system and perceive how a robot “sees”: walking in the exhibition space, the visitor is immersed in a continuous stream of large videos that reflect, from the robot's first-person perspective, the different sensory data coming from the external world and the successive phases of their processing. The visual, auditory and somatosensory (tactile and kinaesthetic) perceptual processes are considered. They occur within the control system of the robot as algorithms processing sensory information and visitors will be able to observe such processing as if they were in the “mind” of the robot.
In order to enrich and make the perception more realistic, there is a sound accompaniment created by the composer Marina Tanaka by “capturing” the sounds produced by the robot when making a movement. Two static robots created by researchers from Sant'Anna School will also be on display.
The whole installation, under the artistic direction of Massimo Bergamasco, constitutes a first attempt to allow the human observer to step into the shoes of a robotic system in order to acquire a phenomenological perspective on the perceptual processes of a machine.
“This exhibition allows people to view the final results of some processes of the control unit of a robot, realized with artificial intelligence techniques”, explains Massimo Bergamasco, full professor of Applied Mechanics, founder of the Perceptual Robotics laboratory and Director of the Institute of Mechanical Intelligence of Sant'Anna School. “What makes the exhibition unique is that the results of the processing of information, whether tactile or visual, are seen subjectively, as if you were inside the robot”.
“We are proud to host an exhibition of this type in Vinci for the first time: our territory demonstrates that it knows how to combine tradition with modernity, with an attentive look towards the future”, remembers Giuseppe Torchia, Mayor of Vinci.
“This installation will amaze visitors and, I am sure, will intrigue especially young people and students: it is an exhibition based on innovation, and an absolute novelty for our territory”, comments Sara Iallorenzi, Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Vinci and Councillor for Cultural Policies and for Technological Innovation and Informatics. “We are surrounded by technology, which has become indispensable in our lives, and we often wonder how it works. This exhibition not only gives us an explanation but also makes us perceive them, putting the human being in the shoes of a machine”.