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" I sometimes suspect that we're seeing something in the Internet as significant as the birth of cities. It's really something new, it's a new kind of civilization."
- William Gibson

Teleoperated Robot Surrogate  
  A robot that is entirely controlled remotely by a person who sees with the point of view of the robot.  

This very short story offers an early fictionalized account of a teleoperated robot. In use, the operator sees with the perspective of the robot's vision.

In the story, roboticist Dr. Alvin Peabody, who describes himself as "scrawny and fluffy-headed," seeks a date with another researcher in the field, Muriel Winthrop.

My prize robot, tall, dashing would speak and act for me...

I turned to where, on my desk, I had set up my controls. To my ears I clamped receivers, upon my eyes I bound the gogglelike televisors that would coincide my viewpoint with that of the robot. A transmitter would place my voice upon those sculptured lips. My hands touched a great keyboard, whence, perfect through long practice, I could direct lifelike motion.

My toe pressed a switch. At once, my vision-point changed. I seemed to sit on the bed's edge, gazing through the robot's pupils. I touched the keys, and rose to my - but that was an illusion, born of years of such experiments. I remained silent, but the robot rose. I moved it across the floor, closed its fingers around the doorknob, and set it out into the hall.

My hearing, vision and awareness went along with that excellent imitation of a young Adonis...

From The Robot and the Lady, by Manly Wade Wellman.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -

When he gets to the restaurant, he meets the beautiful Miss Winthrop, "tall and youthfully curved, filling [her] coat to snugness." However, after a few minutes of conversation, he finds that Miss Winthrop, too, has sent a robot!

She is disappointed with him, expecting a "refined, scholarly-looking gentleman of about forty, with spectacles." When he, in turn, learns that she is no tall ice princess, but rather "quite small," "red hair," and finally "nose turns up, with freckles" he can no longer contain himself. He offers to meet her at the restaurant in fifteen minutes - "make it ten," she breathed.

Ah, love at second sight.

Simple examples of this kind of robot already exist; see the PEBBLES teleconferencing robot for homebound school children and the InTouch medical rounding robot for doctors.

In case you don't think that robots could look enough like people to fool you (at least temporarily), take a look at Repliee Q1.

Compare also to the rolov from the 1953 story Roll out the Rolov! by Christopher Anvil. Compare to eccentric projection from The Girl Who Was Plugged In (1974) by James Tiptree, Jr.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Robot and the Lady
  More Ideas and Technology by Manly Wade Wellman
  Tech news articles related to The Robot and the Lady
  Tech news articles related to works by Manly Wade Wellman

Teleoperated Robot Surrogate-related news articles:
  - Would You Date A Robot? 1 in 4 Say 'Yes'!
  - Meet Your Miniature Android Duplicate
  - DARPA Avatar Program Coming, But Will Soldiers Want To?
  - Candidate Claims His Opponent Is A Robot Body Double

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VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House

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