Terrifying robot granddad “Eric” to live again, thanks to museum Kickstarter campaign
Visitors to the London Science Museum will be in for a blast from the past, when a planned exhibition of 500 years of robotics kicks off in 2017. The exhibition will feature original robots as well as faithful recreations of numerous historical robots, ranging from obscure medieval automatons, to well known modern robots like Cygan and even the first ever bipedal robot. One chief attractions in this interactive display is bound to be the first ever recreation of “Eric the Robot”, the true grandfather of all British robots.
Eric the robot was somewhat of a celebrity during what proved to be a short yet eventful life in the late ‘20s. Created in 1928 by William Richards and Albert Herbert Reffell, the robot had a rather terrifying countenance yet quintessentially British mannerisms. Towering at over 6 feet and with an all-aluminium body, he somewhat resembled a medieval knight in appearance.
With shiny red eyes, and occasional blue sparks flying inside his mouth, old Eric was no R2D2! But he certainly was a bit of a C3PO, if the story of his origins and subsequent newspaper reports about his appearances are anything to go by! He was built initially to inaugurate the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Model Engineers in London 1928, when the Duke of York declined the invitation of the society.
As an ode to the play by Karel Capek in which he coined the term “robot”, Eric had the letters R.U.R prominently emblazoned on his chest plate. Eric was capable of rudimentary movement of limbs and though he could not walk as his legs were fastened to the box that housed the batteries that powered his actions. The robot could be controlled remotely through wireless technology to deliver speeches and answer common questions, adding to his popularity among the public.
After the runaway success of his first public appearance, Eric embarked on a much publicized international tour across the US and Europe, before mysteriously vanishing without a trace. Nobody knows what actually happened to him.
But Eric might get a chance to rise again, thanks to the initiative taken by London Science Museum. Using original images and collected archival material, the Museum plans to rebuild a fully functioning Eric the robot. Expert roboticist Giles Walker has been commissioned to helm the project, which will primarily use industrial waste as raw material.
Their Kickstarter campaign estimates that the whole project will cost around £35,000. Once finished, Eric will become part of the museum’s permanent display and there are even plans to send him on an international tour, just like his predecessor.