Bob Moyler image by bernhard winkler

The performance adventures and novelty acts of Bob Moyler and friends

Quince (2016)

Location: Gilmorehill performance studio, University of Glasgow, Scotland
Performance: Bob Moyler, the iRobot Roomba 533, the iRobot Roomba 530
Technician: Tony Sweeton
Image: Bob Moyler
Created as part of MLitt Theatre Practices, University of Glasgow

After an earthquake and tsunami caused the catastrophic nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, radiation levels were too high for any human to enter the plant. Military-grade robots, such as iRobot’s 510 PackBot, were used to get the first glimpses of the conditions inside. But these purpose built robots were no match for the multi-faceted hostile environments that awaited.
Five years of dedicated robotics development and in 2016 we were beginning to see the first general purpose robots entering the plant to begin the daunting task of decontaminating and dismantling the reactors. Roboticists around the globe were challenged to create adaptable robots that can perform a multitude of tasks and negotiate unpredictable terrains. As Satoshi Tadokoro, a roboticist at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, who led development of Quince (a modified rescue bot sent inside the plant two months after the disaster) said to Science magazine in 2016-

“We must prepare for unforeseen situations beyond the scope of expectation and imagination”

This performance took place sometime, somewhere, one of these unforeseen situations had taken place. The rain beat down on a tin roof as trembling hands worked to construct a modified robot scout. Quince was an unrehearsed performance, there was a loose plan, but more often than not, things do not go to plan, we must adapt. Audience were free to move around the space.