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Tele-Robotics Puts Robot Power at Your Fingertips


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A remotely operated robot prepares to turn a valve.

At the Smart America Expo, Howard Chizeck, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, showed a system he helped develop in which one can log in to a Wi-Fi network in order to tele-operate a robot working in a dangerous environment.

Credit: NSF

Cyber-dogs could help address one of the more pressing challenges of our time, according to University of Washington scientists at the recent Smart America Expo in Washington, D.C.

Under a project supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the researchers incorporated tele-robotics technology into the Smart Emergency Response System that teams are developing to locate people quickly after a disaster and help first responders save more lives. The technology enables users to log into a Wi-Fi network in order to tele-operate a robot in a dangerous environment.

"It's too hot, too radioactive, too toxic, too far away, too small, too big, then a robot can let you extend the reach of a human," says University of Washington professor Howard Chizeck. "We're looking to give a sense of touch to tele-robotic operators, so you can actually feel what the robot end-effector is doing."

The device also is being used to enable surgeons to operate remotely from thousands of miles away, and the team also is adapting the technology for underwater tasks at the base of an off-shore oil rig.

"We're trying to develop tele-robotics for a wide range of opportunities," Chizeck says. "This is potentially a new industry, people operating in dangerous environments from a long distance."

From National Science Foundation
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