Explore Britain's Tate museum after dark via robot

By taking remote control of telepresence robots, you'll be able to roam the deserted halls of one of the world's most famous museums.

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Tate Britain/Alexey Moskvin

There is something fascinating about the idea of a museum after lights-out. All that art and history, just sitting there in otherwise empty, dead silent rooms. If you've ever visited a museum or art gallery, chances are you have, at some point, wished to be there after closing.

Maybe it's not quite the same, but a program by London's Tate Britain will allow you to do so in mind and spirit, if not body: starting 22:00 BST on August 13, users can visit a special website -- appropriately named After Dark -- for a virtual tour of the museum after hours.

But it's not just any virtual tour: four telepresence robots, designed by space exploration technology company RAL Space, can be steered by users to view the museum's 500 years of British art. Users will be queued on the website, taking turns steering the robot for a few minutes.

"The robots know how to navigate the galleries: they were designed and developed specifically for the task. Using the on-screen buttons or the arrow keys on your keyboard, the robots can turn and move forward. They can also look up or down. They sense obstacles around them and they feed this information to you, the operator, to help you navigate the galleries," the website explains.

"If they get too close to an object they will not move any closer and they will notify you through the control interface. When this happens the robots are still able to turn on the spot until the path ahead is clear and the journey can continue."

For anyone who doesn't get to have a turn driving, the website will display a live stream of the exploration, so that you can still enjoy the spectacle.

The program will run for five nights, for five hours each night, and any user from anywhere in the globe can join in -- provided, of course, that your Chrome browser settings and internet connection are compatible.

Head over to the After Dark website to find out when the event will take place in your local time, and join the queue to control one of the robots.

 

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