Detail of How Software and Virtual Reality Will Control Future Robots
Though recent robots are operating with inbuilt software, Science news had revealed how researchers have developed software that lets users control robots over the internet with off-the-shelf virtual reality hardware.
In a demonstration to the new discovery, an undergraduate of Brown University, Eric Rosen was shown operating a Baxter robot using a virtual reality interface developed in Brown’s Humans to Robots tab.
Though robots’ development had been improving over the years, the possibility of having a completely autonomous robot using artificial intelligence without human’s aid is still a big challenge to the robot engineers.
The reason for that is based that humans may be needed at one point or the other for the complete operation of the robot.
In the industrial sector, robotic production will still need few human supervision and control in other to avoid unpredictable action or massive error in the production of a similar product.
The last information revealed through the IPFCONLINE the makers of the popular humanoid robot called Sofia showed that soon robots will advance beyond the AI stage rather robots could be been thought as humans and be able to carry incredible behaviors not actually programmed in the Ai but added to their memory through learning system.
Unlike the previous post on drones and possibility of flying robots, robots were define to act autonomously without external control while the drones were defines as remotely controlled flying vehicle.
But the new researchers’ discovery will mean that some robots could actually be remotely controlled even when the robot is not within the user’s visibility as was revealed in the Brown University.
HOW VIRTUALLY CONTROLLED ROBOTS WORK
Virtual reality control means that through a hardware someone can use a joystick, flexible pad, and other associated hardware to send a signal to a robot at a far distance through the help of a software made possible internet availability.
Though a drone had already demonstrated this technology through our previous post, the use of such technology may not be new when found in robots.
According to the researchers, the software can connect the robot’s arms and grippers with the cameras (eyes) and sensors found in the robot to the off-the-shelf virtual reality hardware through the internet using handheld controllers.
The controllers will help the user to control the positions of the robot’s parts including the arms and grippers. It will cause the robot to start acting the way the user is acting taking similar steps, waving and making a turn the way the user turns while at a far distance.
It is a technology believed to be the best for dangerous rescue mission were humans may actually access directly, so using robots of such nature will ensure accuracy and safer operation.
The cameras fixed at humanoid robots usually act as the eyes which send all the vision to the user enabling the condition of the environment to be made known.
The temperature, availability of oxygen and other gases, humidity and pressure can be accessed through the various data collecting devices that could be fixed to the robot’s skin enabling any user to know the proper condition of the environment before making any decision to access it directly or not.
BEST AREAS OF APPLICATION FOR VIRTUALLY CONTROLLED ROBOTS
Factory workers in metallurgical industries may actually find this technology very helpful since hot steels and molten metals need no human direct contact which may be a problem for such industries.
A human mimicking robot will actually help the worker operate the furnace and hot metals from a distance in a way of reducing accident and also hazards associated with the job.
In the case of fire service department, it is a unique technology different from remotely controlled robots or Ai robots since the user will actually be responsible for all that the robot does by acting as the robot from a far distance.
A technology as this may have no limitation to the areas it could be used if all its limitations are can be overcome in any area of application. Even underwater research and rescue mission can find it useful as well as the space explorers.
The source statement regarding the technology usability it states the following;
“We think this could be useful in any situation where we need some deft manipulation to be done, but where people shouldn’t be,”
said David Whitney, a graduate student at Brown who co-led the development of the system.
“Three examples we were thinking of specifically were in defusing bombs, working inside a damaged nuclear facility or operating the robotic arm on the International Space Station.”
The use of such robot for the handling of nuclear facilities will reduce the risk of hazard the workers usually face.
Giant robots for massive functions can possibly have the various parts controlled individually by different operators at a distance to achieve a common goal using the same technology.
The task of improving robots’ technology and their control mechanism had bee a major challenge to the researchers and developers.
According to Alvin Foo’s retweeted tweet of Mike Quindazzi that “soon our minds will be controlling robots and drones wirelessly”
THE LIMITATION OF THE VR TECHNOLOGY
The use and incorporation of such technology may actually need a fast internet connection to avoid slow response to the user signal and high pixel cameras for taking still and motion images will be very vital for the success of such technology.
Though the researchers’ report didn’t touch these areas, but it will actually be necessary.
Philip is a graduate of Mechanical engineering and an NDT inspector with vast practical knowledge in other engineering fields, and software.
He loves to write and share information relating to engineering and technology fields, science and environmental issues, and Technical posts. His posts are based on personal ideas, researched knowledge, and discovery, from engineering, science & investment fields, etc.
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