Czechs and Collins Aerospace

Written and illustrated by NCSML intern Melina Testin.

Q: What commonalties do Czechs and Collins Aerospace share besides having a large presence in Cedar Rapids?

A: Robots!

Open through October 25, the exhibit A Century of Robots: From Čapek to Now takes visitors on a journey from the introduction of the word ‘robot’ by Czech brothers Karel and Josef Čapek in 1920 to Hollywood’s fascination with science fiction, and finally, to the modern day design and use of robotic equipment by engineers at Collins Aerospace.

On loan to the NCSML from Collins Aerospace is a model of the company’s F-35 Helmet. Used as a companion to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft, the F-35 Helmet’s unique Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) allows the pilot to see a 360 degree view around the plane, in addition to built-in night vision, and all of the airspeed and altitude information standard with other head-up displays. Each helmet is made to custom fit an individual pilot and costs around $400,000.

While it may be a stretch to claim that the Čapek brothers are responsible the F-35 HMDS, Karel’s play, Rossum’s Universal Robots, undoubtedly shaped not only the way we talk about robots, but our relationship with technology. As technology advances to become more perfect and intelligent than humans, Collins Aerospace looks to the future of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that may entirely replace the need for a pilot with computers and remote operators.

Plan your visit to A Century of Robots: From Čapek to Now at the NCSML to discover the artwork, movie posters, toys, and artifacts that reveal the enormous impact of two Czech brothers on science fiction, pop culture, and even industry here in Cedar Rapids.

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