Scientists from the University of Tokyo and the Media Design School of the University of Keio have developed robotic arms that are remotely controlled by another person. One day these limbs will help people to work together, even when they are far apart.
Yamen Saraiji, assistant professor at the School of Media Design of Keio University, demonstrated new technology. While this demonstration he had four hands. Two of them were hugging him. These long robotic limbs were attached to the backpack on his back. They were controlled remotely by another person who wore the Oculus Rift VR headset. With it, he could see the world through the eyes of Saraiji, and through hand controllers could manage robotic hands.
Sarajji supervised the development of this project. He wants to know how people could work together, controlling the body of another person. He believes that the device will be useful for physiotherapy and remote coaching staff.
In addition to embraces, the operator can pick up objects and control the hands of a person. To do this, you need to tie the robotic limbs to the limbs of the carrier with straps. The device was presented at the Siggraph conference in Vancouver.
Before, many attempts were made to create additional limbs, and Sarajji himself did something similar: at one time he, along with his colleagues in the project, developed portable limbs called MetaLimbs. The carrier controlled them with their feet.
When the limbs are controlled by the second person in the next room, this is quite another thing. Sarajji would like to see what happens if someone can, in some sense, get into your body and take control.
In the backpack there is a PC that transmits data over the wireless network between the limb carrier and the person controlling them in the virtual reality. The PC also connects to the microcontroller and lets it know how to position the robotic arms.
Robotic limbs, each of which has seven joints, protrude from the backpack along with a kind of head. Two cameras are built into the head, which show the operator everything that the carrier sees. When the operator turns his head in the VR, the sensors monitor this movement and cause the robotic head to move in response. The system is equipped with a battery that lasts an hour and a half. It is quite heavy – about 10 kg.
Different buttons on the Oculus Rift controllers start different functions of the fingers: the operator can move the little finger, the ring finger and the middle finger of each hand with a single button, the thumb and index finger have their own controls.
Sarajji would like to turn the project into a real product, and he is already going to offer it to the Tokyo business accelerator.