Be The Soul Of The New Machine

A pair of new, immersive technologies allows a person to "inhabit" the body of a distant robot in this experiment conducted in Germany. The first is the haptic system (from a Greek word meaning "touch") that allows the operator to don a pair of gloves that can actually "feel" what the robot feels when it contacts an object. The second is tele-operated movement; as the person moves, so does the robot.


(Tele-operated Force-feedback robot [mp3 video])

How does it work? The distant tele-operated robot is part of a wheeled platform. The human operator makes the robot move around simply by walking; feeds from twin cameras placed on top of the robot's "head" provide images to goggles worn by the human operator.

A glove worn by the operator controls a three-fingered hand at the end of the robot's arm. As the operator moves the glove, the robot's hand moves. As the robot hand presses against an object, the operator senses resistance to movement in his own glove. Also, the operator's sense of being present with the robot is enhanced by the sounds picked up by the robot's microphones.

Why would a person need to be present in two places at once?

"Being able to control a mobile robot would be useful for places too dangerous for humans to go, for example to investigate a suspicious suitcase at an airport," says Anjelika Peer.

Peer developed the system with colleagues Ulrich Unterhinninghofen and Martin Buss at Munich University in Germany.

This system is clearly presaged in the excellent Time is the Simplest Thing, a science fiction novel published by Clifford Simak in 1961. In the book, travelers remain on Earth and send their minds out into distant space. On a distant planet, a traveler's mind "inhabits" a small robot called a taper:

His treads left no tracks upon the floor as they had left tracks upon the sand dunes before he'd come upon this dwelling place, if that was what it was...

The floor was hard and smooth and of a bright blue color and a very easy for him to roll on. His pace slowed to a crawl, his treads whispering on the floor, his sensors out and working, and the whirring of the tape that sucked up sight and sound and shape and smell and form, recording temperature and time and magnetics and all the other phenomena which existed on this planet.
(Read more about Clifford Simak's taper)

The unique thing about the German robot is that it provides tele-operated walking movement as well as hand-manipulation. NASA is working on a similar kind of system; see the Robonaut Centaur which also provides movement to a seated operator who uses a foot pedal to "drive" the bot. This bot was demonstrated at NextFest 2006 this past September.

Interested in remotely-operated robots? Take a look at these:

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/23/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Prototype Robotic Masseur Has The Touch
'The automatic massager began to fumble gently...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...' - Martin Caidin, 1972.

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...' - James P. Hogan, 1979.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

A Passing Drone Has Covid-19 Advice
'Gold dots against blue, basketball-sized, twelve feet up.'

Prototype Robotic Masseur Has The Touch
'The automatic massager began to fumble gently...'

Trash Sorting AI Robot Presages Skynet, Thanks A Lot
Keep your head down, Kyle Reese.

Electric Unicycle Is A Tumblebug
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity, since it is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.'

reLive Memorial Come Back As A Tree
'It was time - time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Engineered Living Building Materials
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

Arkangel: Automatic Visual Censoring
It's whatever the Party says it is, Winston.

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

No Autonomous Trucks? Wait, What?
'...it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

As Big As A Biltong - World's Largest 3D Printer
'Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park... On the concrete platform... lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison
'And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it.'

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.