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Sky’s the limit for new Wellesley robots

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By Felix Yang
Hometown Weekly Reporter

On a Friday afternoon at the Wellesley Free Library, youngsters were treated to a demonstration of a new interactive robot friend named Sky. Funded and obtained by the Wellesley Free Library Foundation last March, Sky regaled its young audience with dance moves, tai-chi, and stories of pirates. The small humanoid robot even played games with its audience, mimicking various sports in a game of charades. Responsive to both voice and touch, the animatronic robot fielded children’s questions at the end of the demonstration session - an intriguing new friend indeed.

The addition of Sky brings more than a new playmate to the Wellesley community. Sky is a part of the Wellesley Free Library’s initiative to educate the local community in digital literacy. With information becoming increasingly available on the internet nowadays, the library has offered regular technology workshops in order to promote fluency in navigating and finding information through digital media. Robot demonstrations with Sky are just one of several technology workshops offered by the Wellesley Free Library.

Wellesley Free Library Assistant Director Elise MacLennan noted that Sky can lend a helping hand to patrons as an introduction to computer programming. Library patrons can start their programming journey putting together programs to interact with the new robot. Instead of writing lines of code from scratch, new programmers can piece together lines of code to get an understanding for how the code commands the robot’s actions. Programmers can even practice outside of the library, and the Wellesley Free Library offers resources to allow programmers to experiment writing code at home. Programmers can then bring their programs to the Wellesley Free Library on a USB stick and test out their programs with Sky to experience the robot’s response.

Local students from Wellesley High School have already taken the initiative to help with the programming of the new robot as it makes introductions to its new home in the Wellesley community. With a captivated young audience on Friday and a group of volunteer student programmers, it seems Sky’s debut in the Wellesley community is going like clockwork.

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