Betty is a mobile service robot from the Oxford Robotics Institute. She has been extensively used the GOALS group to demonstrate long-term autonomous behaviour in real-world dynamic environments. Her software was originally developed by a European consortium as part of the STRANDS Project. In that project Betty and her fellow robots were deployed for security, care, and office management tasks. For a week starting in January 2019 Betty’s latest adventure was to meet visitors at Blenheim Palace. At Blenheim she roamed around the entrance hall to the palace, providing information to visitors about the palace and estate. She would was also able to post pictures of visitors to her Twitter account, @BettyStrands, a functionality which provided much excitement to some visitors.
Betty’s reception at Blenheim was overwhelmingly positive. Visitors young and old were fascinated by the cutting-edge technology on display and were keen to learn more about her person tracking, navigation, localisation and planning capabilities. One of the most common reactions we experienced when accompanying Betty was joy at the juxtaposition of the old and new, the presence of a robot operating autonomously in a palace built in the 1700s.
Betty’s placement was part of an ongoing fruitful cooperation between the Oxford Robotics Institute and Blenheim in which we are testing a range of autonomous robots across their estate. The AI technology within Betty is being reused across a range of domains, including for nuclear inspection tasks as part of the RAIN Hub, and in supermarket stock taking with Bossa Nova robotics. Betty’s colleague Lindsey from the University of Lincoln is currently meeting visitors at The Collection a museum in Lincolnshire.