Ameca looks puzzled. Her eyes flutter as she looks sideways, and ponders at my question: ‘What do you like to eat?’
“I’m not alive, but I need a permanent power supply…” she says. I ask her if she knows Rajinikanth. Unfortunately, Ameca — the world’s most advanced humanoid robot representing the forefront of human-robotics technology — does not. But she is still chatty, humorous and importantly, can almost have a conversation.
A robot with a human-like face, Ameca is one of the many gasp-inducing aspects of Dubai’s Museum of the Future (MOTF). This 77-feet modern architectural marvel, which was opened in February 2022, is among Dubai’s top tourist attractions today, having welcomed over a million visitors from 163 countries.
The building itself is a sight to behold; it stands out among Dubai’s many skyscrapers. Spanning an area of 30,000 square metres, it represents an innovative global intellectual centre. One of the most striking elements lies in the Arabic calligraphy that the entire façade is wrapped in. It also represents quotes from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, and symbolises a journey to the future. One of them reads, “We may not live for hundreds of years, but the products of our creativity can leave a legacy long after we are gone.”
The pillarless structure, we are told, represents an innovative global intellectual centre. “It’s a laboratory designed to foster a spirit of collaborative innovation among the Arab world’s leading scientists to inspire new out-of-the-box solutions for tomorrow’s greatest challenges,” says Majed Al Mansoori – Deputy Executive Director, Museum of the Future.
While museums in India and across the world celebrate the past, this unique museum delves into the future. The thought behind that, adds Mansoori, is to ‘act as a gateway to a future world.’ “It is an immersive portal for visitors to study the future. It provides an engaging experience through various technologies, exhibitions and talks designed to encourage visitors to form their own perceptions about future opportunities, whilst inspiring them to design the future they wish to experience,” he says.
A tour inside this museum provides the opportunity to immerse yourself into futuristic ideas. The OSS Hope, for instance, is a depiction of humanity’s home in space, Here, you could learn about what life could potentially be aboard a huge station in the year 2071.
Another highlight is The Heal Institute, a speculative organisation that exists in the year 2071 to apply technologies that will help repair damage that we have done to the natural world as a result of climate change. If you have children, you could check out the ‘Future Heroes’ space, an exhibition which largely caters to the younger generation and is designed as a playful environment. Adds Mansoori, “We see the museum as a comprehensive laboratory for future cities, such as Dubai.”
The year 2023 has been significant for the folks at MOTF, with tickets being highly sought after and most days being fully sold-out. On its first anniversary earlier this year, they revealed that the museum has hosted more than 180 local and global activations and events. There are exciting latest additions as well; prime among them being a Robodog, a pet that is part of the new generation of advanced robots and welcomes visitors as they walk through the lobby of the museum. Says Mansoori, “Robodog is created using machine learning and AI and boasts 17 joints to enhance its smooth movement which enables it to move and roam with high flexibility, in addition to its ability to see in three dimension, map the terrain and avoid obstacles.”
(The writer was in Dubai at the invitation of Dubai Economy and Tourism)