After Dark project robot with Jacob Epstein's The Visitation (1926) at Tate Britain
Alexey Moskvin—Alexey Moskvin
By Anita Hamilton
August 13, 2014

Fancy a trip to the Tate but can’t cross the pond anytime soon? No worries, the venerable British museum is letting anyone with a (Chrome) browser roam its galleries without the pesky crowds or security guards dampening the experience.

Just one catch: you can only do it in the dark. Starting tonight at 5 p.m. Eastern (10 p.m. London time), visitors around the globe can log on to the Tate After Dark website and explore the Tate Britain’s collection using internet-controlled robots. (Think Roomba with a webcam at eye level). The four robots — which were designed and engineered by the London-based consultants The Workers with help from space research firm RAL Space — let remote users explore five centuries worth of British art, ranging from Elizabethan portraiture to video works by Gilbert & George, currently on display.

“It’s about getting lost in the museum,” says Tommaso Lanza, who co-created the five-night interactive event, which runs through Sunday. “It’s also about fun.”

Each of the four robots has seven sonar sensors on board, an off-the-shelf webcam and a hardware encoder. The bots have no sense of direction, so it will be up to the users to navigate the dimly-lit space. “The whole point is that you control it,” using nothing but the arrow keys on your keyboard, says Lanza.

Even if you don’t get a chance to “drive,” you can still join in via a livestream on the Tate website here.

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