The Duke of Cambridge officially opened the H B Allen Centre at Keble College at Oxford on Thursday, and made a new robotic friend in the process.
During a visit to the Oxford Robotics Institute, he met a hi-tech robotic assistant named Bamm-Bamm (after a character onThe Flintstones) that was built to identify and pick up objects on command.
After being introduced to Bamm-Bamm by Lars Kunze, the robot asked William, “Can someone please pass me the plant pot?” William brought it to the robot, who then handed it back to him, saying “Please make sure you are holding the object, and I will let go.”
William held onto the plant and Bamm-Bamm let go, saying “It looks like my job here is done.” William joked, “I think it is,” as the crowd clapped at the demonstration.
He also met Betty (named after Bamm-Bamm’s mother on The Flintstones), a robot that is designed to work on all projects, though she wasn’t functioning properly.
William toured the H B Allen Centre and met students and faculty members, start-up business owners who work in the building as well as the construction crew. He also watched a demonstration on how virtual reality technology headsets can help treat people with mental disorders.
The H B Allen Centre was one of the major 150th anniversary appeals for Keble College and aims to “create a major new home for our growing graduate community and new facilities to support inter-disciplinary research and spin-out activities at the heart of the University,” per the College’s website.
It houses both the Oxford Sciences Innovation and the Oxford Robotics Institute and includes 230 rooms for students and faculty members to use.
“The Centre signals a new chapter in our history, offering outstanding accommodation for our growing community of graduate students and providing state of the art facilities to support research and spin-out activities,” said Sir Jonathan Phillips, the Warden of Keble College, in a blog post on the College’s website.
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of Oxford, joked during the plaque unveiling that William had “attended another university and I have personally heard him describe that other university as far and away the best university in the world,” referring to St. Andrew’s in Scotland, where she used to teach and serve as Chancellor.
“I used to think so too but now I know – because I have been told by the Times Higher Ed global rankings for the fourth consecutive year – that we in fact are far and away the best university in the world.”
The jokes continued when William pointed at the territorial designation of his title on the plaque – Duke of Cambridge – and said “I hope this is not a contentious word here.”