Robot technology is bringing legendary racehorse Phar Lap to
life for Australian school children.
For the first time since his death in 1931 the Melbourne Cup
winner's body will be brought together, virtually.
Phar Lap is currently preserved in three places - his heart
sits at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, his
hide is in the Melbourne Museum, and his skeleton in the
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
But now schools across Australia can to log in to the
National Museum of Australia from their classrooms and see
the racehorse, while speaking to experts at the same time,
using the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation's (CSIRO) museum robot.
Students can log in and control their own unique view of Phar
Lap using 360 degree panoramic camera on the robot's head.
They can also click on items in the exhibit to bring up
images and more information.
Manager of the museum robot program, Robert Bunzli, said it
will give pupils a "much richer cultural and educational
experience", and a bit of fun for Melbourne Cup day.
"The feedback from teachers and students has been
overwhelmingly positive. To date we've done 70 virtual tours
for nearly 1000 participants at schools and libraries across
Australia and we plan to reach many more," he said.
Dr Jonathan Roberts, robotics expert at CSIRO, said it is
hoped the technology used to bring the racehorse to the
classroom could be extended to remotely deliver health
services, conducting medical training or facilitating remote
ward rounds in hospitals.
The black and white bodies of the two museum robots at the
National Museum of Australia are shaped like chess pieces and
were named Kasparov and Chesster in a competition launched
earlier this year.