Press Release

Carnegie Mellon Inducts Four Robots Into Newly Established Robot Hall of Fame

By SpaceRef Editor
November 10, 2003
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PITTSBURGH — Carnegie Mellon University will induct four famous robots into
its newly established Robot Hall of Fame(TM) at 8 p.m., this evening, at
Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center. Two of the robots represent scientific
breakthroughs, while the other two come from the realm of science fiction.

The robots to be honored in this first annual Hall of Fame event include
NASA’s Mars Pathfinder Microrover Flight Experiment (MFEX), better known as
“Sojourner”; Unimate, the first industrial robot; R2-D2, the unforgettable
droid from the Star Wars movie trilogy; and the evil HAL-9000 computer,
featured in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” created by science fiction
writer and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick.

The robots’ creators or others close to them will accept a certificate in
their honor. Jacob R. Matijevic of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will
accept for the Sojourner rover. Matijevic was responsible for the
implementation, integration, delivery and eventual operation of Sojourner
on Mars. Joseph F. Engelberger, described as “the father of robotics,”
whose company Unimation installed the first robots on a General Motors
assembly line in 1961, will accept for Unimate.

Kathleen Holliday, director of special programs at Lucasfilm, will accept
for R2-D2, and finally there will be a message on behalf of “HAL” from
Arthur C. Clarke, who lives in Sri Lanka.

Two key actors from the original Star Wars trilogy will also be on hand
for the celebration — David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original
Star Wars Trilogy, and Kenny Baker who played R2-D2 in the first Star Wars

A Robot Hall of Fame Web site — — developed by
Wall-to-Wall Studios of Pittsburgh, will be unveiled at the ceremony.

The Robot Hall of Fame was established earlier this year to honor noteworthy
robots, both real and fictional, along with their creators in recognition of
the increasing benefits robots are bringing to society. “Our goal is to
create a permanent, interactive exhibition involving robots that will
educate and entertain a wide variety of audiences,” said James H. Morris,
dean of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science who conceived the Hall of
Fame concept. Morris put together a panel of 13 experts, drawn from
organizations around the world, to choose the robots to be enshrined in the
Hall of Fame. Each of them will serve a two-year term.

Anyone may suggest a robot for the Hall of Fame. This time, the jury made its
final selections from a field of 32 nominees via an international Web
conference last September. The robots that received the highest number of
votes will be inducted tonight.

The criteria for choosing the robots depend on whether they are scientific,
fictional or entertainment-oriented. Scientific robots must have served an
actual or potentially useful function and demonstrated real skills in
accomplishing the purpose for which they were created. Robots created to
entertain must be functioning autonomous devices and have achieved a
significant audience. Fictional robots should have achieved worldwide fame as
fictional characters and helped to form our opinions about the function and
value of all robots.

“It’s fitting that the Robot Hall of Fame is located here in Pittsburgh at
the home of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute,” said Chuck Thorpe, the
institute’s director. “We have been doing research in many areas of robotics
for nearly 25 years and have helped to focus attention on this field that has
so much potential to help people. Next year the Robotics Institute will
celebrate its 25th anniversary. We will hold the next induction ceremony at
that celebration, which takes place from Oct. 13-16, 2004.”

SpaceRef staff editor.