Science Center robot serves yogurt and smiles
Natasha Nesbitt, 6, watched intently through the transparent booth doors as a robotic arm with a horseshoe-like hand prepared her frozen yogurt order, step-by-step: First, a layer of chocolate and vanilla yogurt swirl, then Reese's Pieces, then another layer of yogurt, and finally a cap of Nerds candy.
After the robot fills the plastic cup, it places it on a platform. A window opens and — ta-da! — there's your fro-yo.
“Ohhh!” exclaimed Natasha, of Forest Hills.
The Carnegie Science Center in the North Side has opened a RoboFusion frozen yogurt kiosk in its River View Cafe, which overlooks the Ohio River. Visitors can swipe their credit or debit cards for $6, then use a touch screen to design a four-layered frozen yogurt treat, with two flavors to pick out of chocolate, vanilla or swirl, and two toppings out of six: Mini M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, granola, Nerds and chocolate or colored sprinkles.
Visitors choose an animated cartoon robot — either Cid, Reis, Rev or Ivory — to entertain them on a backing screen while the snakelike arm robot prepares the order.
The cartoon robots add personality to the RoboFusion kiosk, although the actual robot doesn't have a face. But that's typical.
Most robots don't resemble the humanlike ones on “Star Wars” or “The Jetsons,” says Ann Metzger, co-director of the center.
“We think of robots as people,” Metzger says. “We sort of anthropomorphize them.”
The Charleston, S.C.-based RoboFusion company has created many of these kiosks, operated here by Parkhurst Dining Services, and is opening the yogurt kiosks at several locations in the United States.
“These kiosks aren't just delivering yogurt. They are providing a means of educating kids in an engaging manner — demonstrating the exciting new ways in which technology and robots are being utilized in everyday life,” says Allan Jones, founder and CEO of RoboFusion, in a written statement.
RoboFusion fits well with the center's playful science theme, Metzger says, and leaders thought it was the perfect thing to give their visitors, given the science center's popular “roboworld” exhibit. You don't have to pay admission to get yogurt or eat at the cafe.
Natasha's mom, Jessica Nesbitt, checked out RoboFusion while visiting with her daughters.
“It's interesting,” says Newbitt, 36. “It was a little bit confusing at first because I haven't used it before, but it was cool. It's just an interesting contraption.”
Watching the robot assemble the yogurt “seems amazing because it's usually something you have to do by yourself,” says Nataliya, 8, Natasha's sister. “I think it's super-cool. ... It's like the robots are reading your mind.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7824.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Roundup: Keurig strikes deal with Kraft on coffee brands; more
- Lopsided loss to Eagles shows Steelers have issues aplenty
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- O’Hara teen finds inspiration for flying, dodging robot in fruit fly
- Harrison’s 5 RBIs help Pirates pound Brewers
- Steelers notebook: Keisel always hoped to return
- Records: Steelers RB Bell admitted smoking pot before traffic stop but denied being high
- Mother Nature takes a swat at Western Pa. stink bugs
- Chinese jet buzzes Navy aircraft, Pentagon says
- Sandusky cover-up case unusually shrouded
- Pitt football team rallies around its youth