AI News, Teleoperating robots with virtual reality: Making it easier for factory workers to telecommute

Teleoperating robots with virtual reality: Making it easier for factory workers to telecommute

The system embeds the user in a VR control room with multiple sensor displays, making it feel like they are inside the robot's head.

'A system like this could eventually help humans supervise robots from a distance,' says CSAIL postdoctoral associate Jeffrey Lipton, who was lead author on a related paper about the system.

The system mimics the 'homunculus model of mind' -- the idea that there's a small human inside our brains controlling our actions, viewing the images we see and understanding them for us.

While it's a peculiar idea for humans, for robots it fits: 'inside' the robot is a human in a control room, seeing through its eyes and controlling its actions.

Using Oculus' controllers, users can interact with controls that appear in the virtual space to open and close the hand grippers to pick up, move, and retrieve items.

To make these movements possible, the human's space is mapped into the virtual space, and the virtual space is then mapped into the robot space to provide a sense of co-location.

(The human brain does the rest by automatically inferring the 3-D information.) To test the system, the team first teleoperated Baxter to do simple tasks like picking up screws or stapling wires.

Tested against state-of-the-art systems, CSAIL's system was better at grasping objects 95 percent of the time and 57 percent faster at doing tasks.

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