Tate After Dark releases robo-tourists into museum

Think "Night at the Museum" but with robots: the Tate Britain gallery may be open to human visitors during the day, but it's populating the darkened halls with remotely-controlled robots at night as part of an interactive art installation. For the next five nights, a flock of four telepresence 'bots will be let loose among the gallery's halls, controlled from afar by live-stream viewers as part of the After Dark project.

Thanks to a "Take Control" page, those using the Chrome browser will be able to temporarily direct the robots around the museum. On-screen controls or the keyboard's arrow keys can be used to navigate, while the robot's head – and thus the camera, flanked by headlamps – can be angled up and down.

Thankfully, the 500 years of British art aren't at risk of being inadvertently run-over by a haphazard robo-driver. Each of the robots has been taught the layout, and there's obstacle recognition which will stop them from bumping into things as they trundle around.

They're the handiwork of RAL Space, which is better known for its work developing robots for space exploration.

Bringing robotic assistants into our daily lives is something of a theme this week. Yesterday, Starwood Hotels announced it would be trialling a robot butler, which will be used to deliver things like towels and toothpaste to guests rather than dispatching a human employee.

After Dark runs from today until August 17th, with the robots able to be controlled for a five hour period each night.