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  • Exploring the Galaxy using Human-Robot Telepresence

    Paper number



    Dr. Graham Whiteley, Elumotion ltd, United Kingdom


    Mr. Craig Fletcher, Elumotion ltd, United Kingdom


    Prof. Chris Melhuish, Bristol Robotic Laboratory , United Kingdom


    Mr. Paul Bremner, Bristol Robotic Laboratory , United Kingdom


    Prof. Adrian Wilson, The University of Warwick, United Kingdom


    Mr. Jonathan Nobel, The University of Warwick, United Kingdom



    Space exploration is a noble enterprise inspiring young minds that pushes the boundaries of technology and human endeavour; and there is evidence that astronauts and cosmonauts return from space exploration missions with a heightened respect for the fragility of Earth. However, until recently being directly involved in the experience of space exploration has been the preserve of proportionately few individuals, with other space fanatics experiencing this vicariously through books, films, webpages and other popular media.  Existing technology, such as Google Earth, and recent advances in robotics, prosthetics and haptic technology have the opportunity to open the possibly of inclusive space exploration, potentially providing many people with the impression of a perspective upon the Earth from space.
    It is proposed here that a low cost haptic data device, initially for distribution to schools and colleges, could be used to communicate with a Lunar based human-formed robot and so provide the wearer of the device with some of the sensations experienced on the Lunar surface by the robot. Additionally, the position of users head, with respect to a computer mounted video camera, could be used to position a camera mounted at the robot’s head level with the images recorded by the robot camera being communicated to the computer screen of the user.
    Although this is a grand proposal, several key technical challenges have, and are being, solved in the commercial and research domains. For example, currently there is commercial production of human scaled bilateral (i.e. two armed) robotic torsos (product designation RT-version no.).  The torso’s are roughly equivalent in mass to that of an adult human male torso, and have roughly similar powered articulations, acting at roughly similar speeds but with reduced torques. 
    It has been shown at BRL (Bristol Robotics Laboratory) that RT-1 can be teleoperated using a low cost commercially available dataglove.  The next generation RT-2 versions have supplemented joint sensor technology permitting further research on teleoperation with RT-2 by the addition of bidirectional exchange of position and force information.  Additionally, current research in prosthetics is investigating to what level force and position information can be scaled and yet still be useful in the operation of a prosthetic hand.  This research will provide data upon which the specification for a low cost worn haptic data device can be designed.  
    Together these endeavours combine to face some of the technical challenges involved in creating a lunar telepresence experience available to many.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-08.E1.5.3.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.