The next generation telpresence robots will have capabilities such as arms, autonomy, and now touch. Led by Susumu Tachi at Japan’s Keio University a team of researchers have developed a the world’s first Telexistance Robot, the Telesar V. The Haptic technology, allows users to perceive shapes, thus allowing object manipulation.
The robots hands are sensitive enough to feel the texture of objects such as Lego bricks to the warmth and grasp of a human hand. The user is fitted with gloves and a helmet apparatus that receives all the tactile sensory information including 3D sight and sound, in real-time. The result effectively removes the time and space barrier, allowing a person to perform delicate tasks. One prime example for the capability of this technology, is using this robot for disasters such as the Fukushima nuclear plant or bomb diffusion situations.
Sending in a robot like this, rather than a human to handle the dexterous work gets humans out of harms way. The Telesar V has 17 degrees of freedom in the body, 8 in the head and 7 in the arm joints (which is the same as a human). The hands have 15 degrees of freedom, less than the roughly 30 degrees of freedom a normal human hand, though enough to allow the robot to easily manipulate objects.
Mashahiro Furukawa of the Telesar team said the aim was to ‘make it really feel as if you are in another place’. ‘What you can do with this telexistence robot is you can see things you normally see, even in a remote location. ‘The technology makes it possible to operate the robot as your avatar and feel what you are touching, even if you are a long distance away.’