Cyberph' '

ll ROBOTICS is Scotland’s first shop dedicated to robots. It is a mecca of both nostalgia and the future. Words: Paul Dale

he dangerous. glamorous side of robotics is where you have murder and missiles and

weapons of destruction and death. but the good

stuff they do is wonderful] says Aff. the 34-year-old owner

of ll Robotics on lidinburgh's St Mary‘s Street. practically

bursting with enthusiasm for his beloved robots. ‘This stuff

drags kids away from sitting on their computers all day. The word robot. 1 think. comes from the (‘zech word m/mm. which means “slave labour". Deep down I light ethically with the problem of dealing with robots. I get the feeling that one day a 72’I‘minumr-style robot will walk in. grab me and tell me to stop..

It's been a long journey for this former web designer and his lovely Dutch partner listher (30) to opening a shop that truly reflects their life passions. ‘The obsession started when l was a child.‘ he says. ‘My mum brought me a little robot. I worked my way through .‘vleccano and everything else and then went off into the routine of the rest of my life. The revelation for change came about a year ago when we popped into Jenners. I saw this cyberdog. was curious about it. asked the staff about it and nobody knew anything about it. which was infuriating. So we brought it. took it home. switched it on and were deeply shocked by what we had brought: a fully working robot. It was amazing. They were here and nobody knew about them.‘

Doing the latmdry at home set him thinking further.

‘The machine had quite a heavy load and when it sped up it was adjusting to the load and it dawned on me that it was a robot that was doing this job that we take for granted. I checked on the net to see if there were any high street robot- shops anywhere. I was surprised to find there was nothing apart from one in llong Kong. And I thought: "Right. I've gotta get the robots to the people.”

The shop is packed to the gills with cybertoys. transformers and the rarest-of-the-rare retro toys. For old and young alike. the experience ofjust entering the shop has been emotional. ‘The reactions we are getting here are just wonderful] says Aff. ‘There’s a couple of women coming in that get very emotional about the robot jellyfish. Some people come in who don’t believe in the whole Al thing and are determined to give me a hard time. They believe robots are a waste of time and that we are losing our humanity. but they leave changed. It‘s just a matter of explaining the fact that robots are not some weapon or something. but an aid to helping us understand how we live. Seeing is believing: the future is here my friend and the best thing is that in here the kids rule.‘

26 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, 0131 556 5500; (functional from 1 Oct).

‘The future is here and the kids rule,’ says the owner of II Robotics

‘Robots were here and nobody knew about them’

4%) Sep 2809 THE LIST 1 ‘l 1