Hollywood film “Avatar” is no longer pure fiction, after Japanese researchers have developed a robot that imitates the movements made remotely by a human operator. When wearing the special hi-tech equipment, the user not only transmits movements to the robot, but can also see, hear and feel “like” the robot.
Researcher Sho Kamuro explains that when wearing the special device, he sees his hands as having turned into the robot hands and when moving his head he gets a different view angle. “It’s a strange experience that makes you wonder if you’ve really become a robot,” he says.
Sensors transmit information about the environment from the robot to the user, and the special polyester gloves which the human is wearing allow him or her to feel if the surface touched by the robot is smooth or bumpy, or if it is cold or warm. Cameras and microphones transmit video and audio to the user.
Among possible future applications is working in dangerous environments, like the Fukushima nuclear plant, even if the project is still in its early stages, the researchers said. The futuristic robot was developed at the Graduate School of Media Design of Keio University by a team led by professor Susumu Tachi.