Focus-Science and Technology - - INNOVATIONS -

You’ll soon be able to get cud­dles from loved ones over­seas, even if they are a lit­tle cold and pointy. Researchers from Keio Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of Tokyo have de­vel­oped a ro­bot that can be worn as a back­pack and op­er­ated by some­one else who is wear­ing a vir­tual re­al­ity head­set and hand­held con­trollers.

The arms could give you a hug or a high five. Al­ter­na­tively, you could at­tach the ro­bot’s wrists to your own, al­low­ing the per­son wear­ing the VR head­set and hand­held con­trollers to ma­nip­u­late your arms, a fea­ture that could be used for in­struc­tion or phys­i­cal ther­apy. Al­though this isn’t the only time researchers have given peo­ple ex­tra arms, these are the first to be con­trolled by a re­mote operator us­ing VR.

The ro­bot is linked to a back­pack PC that wire­lessly streams data be­tween the wearer and the operator. As well as the two robotic limbs, a ro­bot head with two cam­eras peers over the wearer’s shoul­der, show­ing the operator what’s go­ing on. When the operator moves their head while wear­ing the VR head­set, the ro­bot head moves in re­sponse.

Though this is just a pro­to­type, the researchers are work­ing on turn­ing it into a prod­uct, and ex­plor­ing its po­ten­tial uses. Mean­while, we’re ea­gerly await­ing our first re­mote ro­bot golf les­son.

Ya­men Saraiji (pic­tured) led the de­vel­op­ment of the robotic arms

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