Forget about travel restrictions – the new app can transport you anywhere in the world in the body of a robot
With the future of international travel looking uncertain for most people, new technology developed by Cyberselves, a recent spin-off from the University of Sheffield, could allow people to see, hear and feel anywhere in the world via a robot.
The new telepresence app can give people the ability to transport themselves into the body of a robot. The app allows people to see what the robot sees, hear what the robot hears, feel what the robot is feeling and move around its body.
To demonstrate how easy telepresence technology is to use, the University is offering people the chance to transport themselves in a robot as part of the 2021 UK Robotics Festival.
Telepresence technology could be used to help people do things like visit relatives, visit a museum, and explore other attractions in a city anywhere on the planet. It could also be used to help with industrial applications such as monitoring a production line remotely or performing operations in hazardous environments – throughout the body of a robot that they can control at the same time. using a VR headset or a simple web browser.
Telepresence robots have been around for a while, but they are currently expensive and difficult to use, which means the technology is not yet widely adopted. However, the new application makes it easier than ever to access and use telepresence robots, paving the way for the full realization of the technology’s potential.
Cyberselves Teleport app can be used with any commercial VR headset or through a browser on a computer. The researchers also developed Animus – a universal language for robots – which means their Teleport app can be used under license with any robot located anywhere in the world.
During the festival, people have the opportunity to transport themselves in the body of a small animal-like robot – MiRo – at the University of Sheffield and move through a specially constructed maze.
Dr Michael Szollosy, COO at Cyberselves and Research Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, said: “Telepresence robots have the potential to help us overcome many of the challenges we face in the world, especially in light of the recent Covid pandemic. With international travel being very limited or impossible at all for many people, telepresence robots could be used to allow people to travel and explore places virtually and communicate with each other safely. This could mean, for example, that parts of the tourism industry could continue despite restrictions from this pandemic or any future pandemic.
“Besides tourism, telepresence robots have many other potential applications. They can help us provide more effective and personalized healthcare, fight social isolation, and help clean up and repair dangerous environments.
“The technology we have developed is incredibly easy for people to use. All you need to connect to a robot anywhere in the world is an internet connection and a browser. Users can also use a VR headset for more immersive control, but the ability to use telepresence through a web browser will make the technology even more accessible and open up more possibilities for use.