iCub 3: the robot that allows people to see and feel remotely

iCub 3

The iCub 3 robot avatar has the ability to transmit video and haptic experiences to a person wearing haptic feedback gloves and a virtual reality (VR) headset over considerable distances, thus providing an alternative for people to participate in events without the need to commute.

This robot, with a weight of 52 kg and a height of 125 centimeters, has 54 points of articulation in its aluminum alloy and plastic structure. Its head houses two cameras instead of eyes, as well as an Internet connection that serves as a “brain.” Through these cameras and sensors that cover its body, the robot sends data to its “brain” and these sensations are replicated in a virtual reality suit and headset used by a remote human operator.

When the operator reacts to visual and tactile experiences, sensors built into the suit capture the movements and the robot replicates them. Stefano Dafarra, from the Italian Institute of Technology and member of the iCub 3 team, highlights the importance of translating each signal and numerical data for transmission over the network.

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Although there may be a small delay of up to 100 milliseconds in the capture and transmission of visual material, this delay can be mitigated by the operator by moving slightly slower than usual.

iCub 3 in action

The team demonstrated the robot at the Venice Biennale, where the iCub 3 moved around an exhibition while its operator was 290 km away in Genoa. The prospect of using the iCub 3 to participate in events remotely, thereby reducing the need to travel, is a prospect that excites Dafarra. However, he notes that in the current situation, a fall could cause considerable damage to the robot and it is not yet clear whether it would have the ability to stand up on its own .

For his part, Jonathan Aitken, from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, comments on his fascination with the iCub 3, recognizing the obvious improvements over its predecessor, of which his laboratory already has a version.

Aitken expresses disappointment at the lack of clarity in the investigation into the data transmission requirements of the new version of the robot. Likewise, it points out the importance of knowing the amount of data necessary and the upper and lower limits in this regard.

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