Robot at The Collection

Lindsey - A robot tour guide

Background

Lindsey is the latest in a family of robots developed by the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems (L-CAS, from the School of Computer Science), with others working in warehouses, on farms, and care homes. The robot employs the latest Artificial Intelligence and robotics technologies, advanced in research projects by the researchers at the University’s School of Computer Science. They have programmed the robot to be able to navigate the museum on its own and recharge itself, accounting for potential obstacles such as people, exhibits and bags left on the floor, while learning from interactions to develop a better understanding of what visitors are interested in. These advances are part of the wider project to develop robots which can operate autonomously around humans, and build upon outcomes of the collaborative EU-funded £7.2 million STRANDS project which created the technologies for mobile robots that are able to operate independently. The project is the beginning of a long-term partnership between Lincolnshire County Council and the University of Lincoln, to advance robotics technology to support the education of the public and allow them to engage with the latest digital advances.

Professor of Intelligent Robotics & Interactive Systems, Marc Hanheide, who is leading the project commented: “Despite all the progress in robotics research in the past years, taking a robot out of the lab and ‘into the wild’ of public space like ‘The Collection’ museum is still a most challenging endeavour. Lindsey will operate entirely autonomously and navigate the gallery on its own. We hope to learn a lot about the requirements for robots engaging with the public and the specific ways visitors are interacting with the robot. It helps us tremendously to further develop the long-term autonomy and adaptation of our AI-enabled robots.”

James Sharples, Business Transformation Manager at Lincolnshire County Council said of the project: "The Collection Museum is excited to be involved in this long-term project with Lincoln University. Combining history and technology Lindsey will add a unique experience for people of all ages visiting the site, making learning about the past more engaging and interactive."

Operations of the Robot

Members of the public are invited to interact with the robot via its touchscreen. The robot itself is certified for safety in public spaces and fitted with easily accessible emergency stop buttons and a rubber safety switch at its perimeter. Its travelling speed is furthermore limited to ensure the safety of the public. During its operation at the museum, the robot uses its sensors to find a path among the exhibits and visitors that it can safely navigate. The purpose of the robot is to eventually learn how to become a better tour guide and to adapt to the preferences of its users. For this (solely scientific) purpose, the robot records anonymised data of its interactions with members of the public. Please refer to the Data Protection Statement below.

Data Protection Statement

Lawfulness, fairness and transparency

This project sees the University of Lincoln in the role of the “data controller”, and Lincolnshire County Council in the role of a “data processor”. Any requests regarding data protection are to be directed at the University of Lincoln’s compliance team at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Data minimisation

Recorded data, required for the correct operation of the robot, are colour video data, depth data & audio (recorded for up to 30 seconds in interaction and only when indicated on the robot’s screen), laser distance data from LIDAR sensors, and the location and orientation of the robot at any given time.

For further analysis in dedicated studies, visitors in the museum may be asked to share subjective experiences with the robot. These will only ever be acquired with full and explicit consent by the respective persons, and their right to withdraw at any point. The right to be forgotten (e.g. to have recordings of oneself deleted from any recordings of the robot) can be exercised by contacting the project lead by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). You also have the right to request a copy of any personal information we hold about you.

Accuracy

The data is recorded solely from the robot’s sensors and devices. As the data is only to be processed anonymously by machine learning and data analysis methods on the robot, the accuracy of the data is of no concern for any individual in this particular application.

Storage limitation

Most data required for the correct operation of the robot is only stored short-term on the robot itself, as long as it is required for the correct operation of the robot (usually less than a week). Consolidated data and learned models are stored for the duration of the project and an additional 5 years afterwards (until 31/12/2026) on servers at the University of Lincoln.

Integrity and confidentiality (security)

All data is stored on secure storage, either on the robot for short-term storage or on University of Lincoln’s own servers for long-term storage. Access is restricted by strong authentication methods, and only authorised members of the research team (governed by the project lead Prof Marc Hanheide) are provided with access for solely scientific purposes.

Accountability and Complaints

The University of Lincoln, as the “data controller”, is accountable for any breaches and concerns regarding the data protection. If you feel that we have let you down in relation to your information rights then please contact the Information Compliance team (see contact details overleaf). You can also make complaints directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is the independent authority upholding information rights for the UK. Their website is https://ico.org.uk and their telephone helpline number is 0303 123 1113. For more information about the University privacy policy go to the website: https://ethics.lincoln.ac.uk/research-privacy-notice

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