By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association
Robot souls are for sale in Ann Arbor, Michigan as I learned during the town’s annual Art Fair this year. But the real story is how the sale of souls (and kidneys and tears and other novelties) at the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair Shop help support a free tutoring service run by non-profit 826michigan.
When Ann Arbor held its annual Art Fair this year, the staff of Automation Technologies Council took part of the day to explore its back yard which gave me the chance to visit this special institution. My colleague, Vice President, Dana Whalls, had preceded me there by several weeks and helped arrange the loan of a real robot from FANUC Robotics and it had arrived just in time for the Art Fair. It seems there is no end to the ways robots help inspire progress!
According to the parent organization, “826 National is a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in eight cities across the country. Our goal is to assist students ages six to eighteen with their writing skills, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our work is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.”
826michigan certainly offers an interesting way to attract attention. In this video you can see a collection of “Angry Tin Robots.”
A terrific underwater scene was depicted in the front window of the store.
Here’s what 826 National says about its business model, “To raise funds, inspire creativity, and advertise our programs to the local community, most of our centers include a street-front retail store filled with unusual products, entertaining signage, and, of course, our books for sale. San Francisco’s pirate supply store sells glass eyes and one-of-a-kind peglegs, 826NYC’s Superhero Supply Company offers custom-fit capes, Seattle’s Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company sells all your space commuting appurtenances, 826michigan’s Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair Shop specializes in must-have mechanical conveniences, while 826LA features a time travel store, there’s a secret agent supply store in Chicago, and the Cryptozoology shop in Boston is now open!”
That is a slice of what is happening in Ann Arbor, Michigan where Robotic Industries Association is located (a trade association of the Automation Technologies Council). It was nice to get the chance to see how robots help young humans improve their lives through the artful combination of education and science – and maybe find a soul for a mechanical friend.