Robots at Dubai Expo have multiple roles while interacting with visitors

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As Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo ever held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region got underway on Thursday, visitors to the purpose-built venue are being met with robots of various kinds.

The Dubai Expo’s mascots – Salama, a magical ghaf tree, and two intrepid Emirati siblings Latifa and Rashid – have three helpful robo-guardians.


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The robo-guardians Opti, Alif and Terra represent Expo 2020’s three subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, respectively.

As the mascots embark on a thrilling adventure through time and space to discover the meaning behind the World Expo, they are guided by the robots.

During their adventure, Rashid and Latifa must unlock Salama’s secrets, explore the world-changing inventions revealed at past World Expos and discover everything about Expo 2020 and the amazing legacy it will leave behind.

A series of short films starring the mascots will be released in the coming 12 months, each focusing on an Expo subtheme.

Visitors to the expo can also exchange some jokes with Opti, the one-meter-tall orange-colored friendly robot, who is the official mascot as well as the guardian of The Opportunity Pavilion.

Opti can be found around the walkways of Expo 2020, sometimes dancing with his buddies, and is a hit especially among young visitors.

Pioneering tech firms have also teamed up with Expo 2020 Dubai.

One of them, Terminus Technologies, is a China-based leading artificial intelligence (AI) smart service provider that is shaping the next generation of technology with AI and Internet of Things (AIoT).

Terminus has signed a long-term lease at District 2020 as part of the innovation ecosystem that will evolve after Expo 2020.

Terminus has deployed more than 150 programmable robots to interact with visitors at the Expo. These robots include Opti, one of the robo-guardian’s Expo mascots.

Fitted with features such as multi-touch displays, 5G network capability AI-driven object mapping and object detection, Opti is carrying out duties as Expo 2020’s site-wide goodwill ambassador, including greeting thousands of guests, performing in special displays and providing assistance, as well as helping with food and beverage delivery, and hospitality services.

Talabat, the region’s leading online food delivery has also partnered with Terminus, and launched autonomous food delivery robots. Using artificial intelligence (AI) for point-to-point food delivery, the robots will carry orders from Talabat’s state-of-the-art two-story cloud kitchen for customers at designated delivery points on the Expo site.

The robots are capable of making thousands of orders daily. They also have password-secured large compartments to enable several deliveries in a single trip.

Clients can unlock a robot using special unique QR codes or order IDs to ensure that food is delivered in a safe, contactless, and seamless manner to customers.

Terminus Technologies has robots for specific roles.

Patrol robots will protect and monitor the expo site and will be on duty 24 hours a day to remind visitors of safe practices such as social distancing. It can also use voice recognition to answer your questions, and provide emergency announcements.

A man stands next to a panda robot at the Chinese Pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE, on October 4, 2021. (Reuters)
A man stands next to a panda robot at the Chinese Pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE, on October 4, 2021. (Reuters)

Attendant robots will show you the way to your specific destination. The robot will be fully equipped with multimedia interaction including voice interaction and have the ability to display images, text, audio and video to visitors to access and receive the necessary information.

The delivery robots will be dispatched to carry goods and other kinds of materials around the site.

Vending trolley is a kind of delivery robot and can be converted to perform different roles at the Expo 2020. They can be fitted with racks to carry visitor guides, reading materials or maps. Apart from that, they can also carry a poster frame, baskets, and catering trays.

Barista Yanu will serve coffee for the visitors and knows how to prepare it.

Robot orchestra plays Beethoven

At the Germany Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, visitors will be able to catch a futuristic take on the legendary composer Beethoven’s work. As part of its cultural program, the pavilion’s Culture Lab is bringing to life Beethoven’s music via classical, rock, acoustic and electronic performances by robots.

Visitors to the China pavilion ‘Light of China' have a chance to shake hands with a robotic panda. The three-story pavilion itself is shaped like a traditional Chinese red lantern, and offers a glimpse into the future: space exploration, robotics and smart cities.

“The theme of China’s pavilion is building a community with a shared future for mankind, innovation and opportunity,” said Fang Ke, the deputy director of the Chinese pavilion to Reuters.

Read more:

Expo 2020 Dubai: Visitors share their excitement during opening week of world fair

Expo 2020 Dubai to be renovated into futuristic ‘District 2020’ after March 2022

Expo 2020 Dubai showcases UAE, Arab world’s role in advancing human progress

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