Danger ahead for new robot

March 15, 1996

An engineer in the British Telecom Laboratory at Martlesham Heath is today taking part in the first public demonstration of a "telepresence" link-up with a robot head built by Strathclyde University. The engineer, wearing a virtual reality headset, will be linked with the robot over a special telephone line, writes Olga Wojtas.

Via the robot head, the engineer can go round Strathclyde University's Robotix 96 exhibition, part of SET96.

The telephone lines transmit sound and pictures, allowing the user to hear through the robot's ears and see through its eyes.

"The robot has the same movement and dimensions as the human head so it feels very realistic," said Gordon Mair of Strathclyde's department of design, manufacturing and engineering management, leader of the telepresence team.

Eventually the team hopes to send the robot into hazardous situations such as bomb disposal, underwater work, mining, hostage situations and space exploration. It could even be used for remote surgery.

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