Meet the Telus World of Science’s resident robot, Jeffrey, and the kids who designed it
By Darrin Hagen | September 6, 2023
Rise of the Robot Kids
When I got the email telling me I would be interviewing the robot kids from the Telus World of Science, my first thought was This A.I. thing has gotten completely out of control.
But these kids build the robots. And they fly their geek flag proudly. Some of them are designers. Some are builders. Some are programmers. Some are experts in emergency repair. All of them have a keen interest and commitment to creating machines that do specific work.
Veering from shy to completely confident, from monosyllabic to chatty, these teens are eager to show off their creation: Jeffrey.
Jeffrey is no slouch, despite his (I ask about pronouns but Jeffrey’s inventors seem non-committal) nondescript appearance. Jeffrey is comprised of wires and metal and wheels, but to see Jeffrey move is to be amazed at the ingenuity and creativity of the robot kids.
I watch as Jeffrey quickly and efficiently spins, advances with confidence. The wheels allow forward, backward and sideways movement, and spinning quickly is easy. Suddenly a series of metal pieces rise from the top, unfolding with unerring logic and smoothness, more than tripling Jeffrey’s height, and then another piece extends forward. Jeffery then reaches down to grab a red cup from the floor, raises it high above a pole and drops it perfectly into place. I say Jeffrey did this because it’s easy to forget that the robot kids are subtly working remote controls that tell Jeffrey what to do at every stage. Their disarming calm as Jeffery does what seems impossible is part of the fun.
Members of the team soon head to Singapore for a global gathering of robot kids, where Jeffrey will compete in a challenge yet to be revealed. The robot kids were nonplussed by the fact that they will have a very short period of time to redesign Jeffrey to achieve whatever this new assignment may be. They take it all in stride.