A virtual reality system can change the future of manufacturing jobs. A team of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is currently developing a VR system for Oculus Rift headset that allows manufacturing workers to teleoperate using a Baxter humanoid model robot.

The system will mimic the “homunculus of the mind” which allows users to feel like they are “inside the robots head.” When the user wears the VR headset, they will be able to match their movement with the robot in other location to complete a various task through a virtual space to open and close the hand grippers to pick up, move, and retrieve items. This can be done by ” mapped the human’s space into the virtual space, and the virtual space is then mapped into the robot space to provide a sense of co-location” (MIT, 2017).

“By teleoperating robots from home, blue-collar workers would be able to telecommute and enjoy the benefit of IT revolution just as white-collar workers do now,” said Jeffrey Lipton from CSAIL Postdoctoral Associate.

Lipton said that the experiment enables the users to complete various tasks such as picking up screws or stapling wires “at a much higher rate” (MIT, 2017) and “the system could pilot the robot from hundreds of miles away, testing it on a hotel’s wireless network in Washington DC to control Baxter at MIT” (MIT, 2017).

Ousamma Khatib, a computer science professor at Stanford University said that “This contribution represents a major milestone in the effort to connect the user with the robot’s space in an intuitive, natural, and effective manner.”

Lastly, the researchers would like to further develop the system more “scalable” for more users and other types of robots.

Adapted from: Eurekaalert.org

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