In the last few days, visitors to CaixaForum Zaragoza have been able to see how the first tests were carried out with Pilar, the first telepresence robot for cultural uses in Spain. The "la Caixa" Foundation has opted for this telepresence technology, which allows visitors to walk around the exhibition and observe it without having to go to the cultural centre.
Pilar is a Double 0 telepresence robot, developed by the ADD group, an expert in robotics. It has a tablet with a camera mounted on a bar and attached to a lightweight electric transport that is driven by remote control. The device sends a video transmission to the users. Users, from a distance, appear on the robot's screen as if they were just another visitor. The robot travels through different areas of the exhibition led by an educator, who is also responsible for controlling and streamlining the visit, and for responding in real time to questions that arise from users during the experience. These virtual visits, understood as a first approach to the exhibition and never as a replacement for it, are expected to last approximately 25 minutes. After a period of adaptation by Pilar, the aim of the "la Caixa" Foundation is to have it fully operational by next autumn and to incorporate it into the regular educational offer of CaixaForum Zaragoza. The main beneficiaries of this pilot project will be students. At the moment, tests are being carried out with summer camps and in the exhibitions 'Mirrors. Inside and outside reality' - recently inaugurated - and 'Luxury. From the Assyrians to Alexander the Great'.
In a second phase, the institution plans to extend this experience to other CaixaForum centres - shortly, it will be available at CaixaForum Seville -, as well as extending it to other groups, such as people with reduced mobility or hospitalised people.
Telepresence robots are increasingly used in the medical industry and in work environments. But this is the first time that a Spanish cultural institution has incorporated a remote art viewing experience like this. Although the use of this technology has increased in recent years, its value has undoubtedly increased following the closure of museums due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with this unprecedented situation, the "la Caixa" Foundation wanted to take another step forward and has found in this technology a solution to maintain the connection with the public. Following the reopening of its cultural centres, telepresence continues to be an innovative solution for bringing culture to those who cannot travel to the exhibition halls.
With the incorporation of this technology, unprecedented for its use in museums in Spain, the "la Caixa" Foundation intends to reach those groups that cannot usually travel to the exhibition halls.