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 ")

X2-VelociRoACH Cooperates To Launch Tiny Drones
Little robots cooperating can do big tasks. Eventually.

An 'Ethical Black Box' For Robots?
Explored by science fiction authors.

Kino Project Roaming Personal Fashion Robots
'Most of the crew have the tiny imp ride on their shoulder...' - Robert Forward, 1985.

First Crewless Ship? Umm
Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

 

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

Will A Steel Umbrella Stop Russia?
'Everyone was aware that the damned platform was wandering around in its own orbit...'

EVE Artificial Womb For Lambs (For Now)
'In the crimson darkness, stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones...'

TIKAD Armed Drone Ready To Fight
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'

Bees Royal Jelly Helps Wounds Heal Faster
'An alien drug... used by an insect race.'

NASA Wants To Make Oxygen On Mars
'They plop down on the Red and if the dust is deep enough ... they burrow in...'

Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'

X2-VelociRoACH Cooperates To Launch Tiny Drones
Little robots cooperating can do big tasks. Eventually.

'Do Not Pay' Chatbots To Replace Law Firm Associates?
'I want my lawyer program.'

MULTI Model Of Star Trek Turbolift
Cool prototype video!

A Look Into The Future Of Spacecraft!
Ever wonder how you look when you enter a new part of a spacecraft?

An 'Ethical Black Box' For Robots?
Explored by science fiction authors.

Dadbot Digital Immortality
'A hardwired ROM cassette replicating a dead man's skills...'

Should We Permit Computers To Create Their Own Language?
'Talk Between Robots radio...'

Breakthrough Starshot Sprites Yearn For Alpha Centauri
'Whoever launched it fired a laser cannon...'

Kino Project Roaming Personal Fashion Robots
'Most of the crew have the tiny imp ride on their shoulder...'

Astronaut Exercise Video, Predicted By SF Writers
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses.'

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.