A giant campaign to bring a one tonne robot to Leeds

Issued on behalf of Playful Leeds

A year-long Leeds celebration by Playful Leeds called ‘March of the Robots’ kicks off with an audacious bid to bring a 1950s cult robot called Cygan, weighing more than a tonne to Leeds. Playful Leeds has launched a fund raising campaign in an attempt to crowd source enough funds to purchase Cygan, the world famous robot, when it goes up for auction in London on 5 September 2013. They hope to bring the Italian designed robot to Leeds making it the first city in the UK to have an official Robot in Residence.

Cygan, standing at 8ft tall was created in the 1950s by Italian designer and inventor Dr Fiorito to be a domestic helper. It was remote controlled, could crush cans with its fist and could even dance. Cygan captured the imagination of the public back then, and still has a cult following to this day.

When Playful Leeds found out that Cygan was to be auctioned at Christies they devised a plan to claim him for the city of Leeds as a robot in residence for the year-long celebration of all things robot-related in the city. The hope is to collectively raise the funds to be amongst the bidders on 5th September, when Cygan is auctioned at Christie’s in London. The guide price is £8,000-£12,000 and the campaign target is £15,000 to including fees and Cygan’s travel expenses.

Playful Leeds hopes to restore Cygan back to its original glory, in order for potential hosts including city schools to host visits from the friendly robot over the next 12 months. Playful Leeds is in conversation with organisations excited by the idea, and who have reinforced concrete floors and high ceilings.

If the group is unsuccessful at auction, the money pledged will be held in trust to build a robot for Leeds in partnership with the people of Leeds, supported by The University of Leeds. The University is amongst the high profile backers in the campaign to tempt Cygan to Leeds, the UK’s 3rd largest city for manufacturing, a place where technology continues to play an enormous role.

Emma Bearman from Playful Leeds said:"People have long been fascinated by the thought that robots can make our lives easier be that domestically in the home or through streamlining manufacturing. The recent launch of the world's first talking astronaut robot Kirobo, the Toyto designed Space Companion with a mission to understand how machines could emotionally support isolated people over long periods is testament to our continued interest. As robots and robotics will be such a key part of our future, we'd rather welcome them than run and hide behind the sofa."

Professor Ian Robertson, Head of the School of Electronic & Electrical Engineering at the University of Leeds, said:"This is a very exciting campaign and we look forward to playing a key part in this activity. We are already working on an initiative to promote robotics in 10 schools through the donation of 100 small robot kits and we will be supporting March of the Robots through the new National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, recently funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Leeds businessman and entrepreneur Dr Adam Beaumont of Leeds based aql said:

"I'm excited to be supporting this campaign and will be making the first pledge to kick-start the fund-raising.

"Leeds has a rich history in manufacturing and is a hive of technological innovation, although much of it is hidden to the naked eye.

"Installing a Robot in Residence to the City is a great way of bringing technology into the open and encouraging the people of Leeds to celebrate and tap into the innovation talent and expertise that exists."

Lucinda Yeadon Leeds City Council's executive member for leisure and skills said:"This is a great initiative that epitomises the enterprising spirit of Leeds and I wish Emma and the team every success in the bid."

For further details, images and interviews please contact Emma Bearman, Playful Leeds on 07776 180994 / emma@cultivateltd.co.uk @playfulleeds


Notes to Editors
Playful Leeds – www.playfullleeds.co.uk - @playfulleeds

1. Playful Leeds was a project set up in January 2012 to explore how playfulness can bring benefit to the citizens of a place.The instigator Emma Bearman is currently forming Playful as a not for profit venture.

Through a celebration of Robots from October 2013 - October 2014 Playful Leeds intends to bring people together to be creative, resourceful and to collectively create the city of the future, where we all play our part.

2. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announced the £4M National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems in July as part of a government drive to improve Britain’s international competitiveness in robotics.The facility, based at the University of Leeds, will give researchers and commercial partners access to a world-beating suite of technologies including the latest 3D printing technology, a high-precision cutting system that fires a laser beam through a jet of water and “micromanipulators”” for assembling tiny robots.

The research of the new facility will build on the University’s existing strengths in robotics for surgical applications, patient rehabilitation, prosthetics, and exploration.


3. aql will pledge free use of it's high-tech mobile messaging and data services to any budding robot-scientists who want to control or interact with their robot via SMS or 3G