Engineers from the Keio University and the University of Tokyo have built what can only be described as a robot backpack. It has two arms and a head which can be operated remotely via a VR headset and controllers.
The robot’s arms are set directly behind the wearer and the robot’s head is fitted with stereo vision and 3D binaural audio.
Credit: Yamen Saraiji / YouTube
The robot was dubbed Fusion and it was built with the purpose of encouraging collaboration and learning at a distance.
The robot arms can move freely by themselves, be controlled by the host or can be attached to the wearer’s wrists and be the ones who move the human instead, when set to a mode called ‘enforced posture’.
For those of you who are afraid robots will take over, it might sound creepy, but this ‘enforced posture’ mode has many uses – it can help the rehabilitation process for people who are undergoing physical therapy or it can help an expert guide a pupil or new practitioner by assisting them remotely.
For now, Fusion is only a prototype and it comes with a number of small flaws – the arms have a bit of a lag and the view for the telepresence user (the robot’s head) is something one needs to get used to.
Fusion might never become a commercial project, since it’s only a prototype, but who knows? We’re looking forward to the exciting future of telepresence robots nonetheless.