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History


When the artist group BBM‘s (Observers of Operators of Machines; www.bbm.de) robots emerged into the light of day at the Expo in Hanover in June 2000 after two years of development, it only took seconds for the media to give them a nickname.

They were called the “Expo Eggs” because of their unusual form and creamy white shells reminiscent of the origins of all life.
When the very first “Expo Egg” was presented to the public a year before the Expo opening, the “S¤ddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper dedicated an entire page to this spectacular project by BBM founder, Olaf Arndt:
ŃDer Zukunftsmacher”!
At last the first German Expo had the sensation it had been seeking for so long: friendly robots, and a whole flock of them ą 72 loveable beings.
1.3 million people came from all over the world, peered, puzzled and played with the robots: an enduring symbol of intelligent communication1.

German news magazines STERN, SPIEGEL and FOCUS as well as TV broadcasters outdid each other with their euphoric reports. The “eggs” were promptly dubbed “An Eiffel Tower for the 21st Century”.

DIE WOCHE praised the project, “An Oscar for the Expo’s cleverest production!” and the architect of the German Pavilion, Johannes Milla, described the “Blue-white Revolution” as simply the “best media space ever created.”
This mammoth project (with production costing 11 million Euros) was run by the artists themselves with support from Europe‘s biggest media art centre, ZKM Karlsruhe, the Fraunhofer Research Institute and Multiplex, a high-tech company from Bremen, who produced the robots’ striking shells.

Project Director Olaf Arndt honed the concept, working with the most well-known of the interested parties, Disney Imagineering. Orrin Shively, Head of Development for Walt Disney‘s Theme Parks, wanted to take the robots back to its EPCOT® theme park in Orlando, Florida after Expo 2000.

But the Expo company had other ideas, selling the robots to the city of Oberhausen, where they were to become part of the gigantic “Ovision” science park.

When the “Ovision” project was finally shelved in 2006, Olaf Arndt was able to privately reacquire the project and update its technology. To do this, Olaf Arndt enlisted robotics world champion Dr. Holger Kenn (Robocup 2006), who currently works for the Microsoft research department, EMIC.

Almost a decade after their acclaimed premiere at the millennial Expo and a guest appearance at the Expo World’s Fair Japan in 2005, the “eggs” are again underway. They are now cleverer than ever, equipped with the most modern high-tech laser sensors and new software enabling them to orient themselves “autonomously” (independently) in space.
BBM has succeeded in creating an “Attraction of the E-Category” (O. Shively). The E stands for Entertain, Educate and Empower.

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Robots‘ Technical Details


Each of the 72 machines, regardless of its size, is equipped with the following basic components:
- Hokuyo laser scanner
- Robust drive unit with 24 V electric motor from Meyra
(wheelchair manufacturer)
- solid steel frame, painted
- adjustable engine management system
- high-quality incremental encoder for precision measurement of
wheel revolutions
- Control computer
- “Embedded board” computer to control movement

- Transformers for low voltage power supply to the computer
- 2 batteries of 12 volt 160 ampere lead gel each, maintenance-free
 Sonnenschein brand, manufactured in Europe by Exide
- Battery charger, industry standard, from Tebechop
- DC converter for a 220 V power supply (1,000 W)

GRP shells

Maunfactured using a vacuum injection process
available in 3 versions
Maxi : L 450 cm, B 225 cm, H 300 cm,
Floor surface area 7.9m
Midi : L 240 cm, B 150 cm, H 160 cm,
Floor surface area 2.6 m
Mini : L 165 cm, B 122 cm, H 110 cm,
Floor surface area 1.6 m

The German Trades Bidding Consortium (Bieter-Gemeinschaft des deutschen Handwerks - BIEGE) was responsible for production.