VR-Enabled Robot Avatar: “Controlling iCub 3: A Humanoid Robot Enabling Remote Sensation and Presence in Virtual Reality”
Wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset and haptic feedback gloves, an individual can now remotely control the iCub 3 humanoid robot, experiencing a sense of presence in a distant location. The 52-kilogram, 125-centimetre-tall iCub 3 features 54 points of articulation, cameras for eyes, and a computer-connected brain. Sensors across its body send data to the robot’s “brain,” replicating sensations on a suit and VR headset worn by a remote operator, enabling them to see and feel what the robot experiences.
The translation of signals and numeric data through the network allows the operator to control the robot, with a minimal delay of up to 100 milliseconds for capturing and transmitting visual footage. The iCub 3 has been showcased at the Venice Biennale, where it roamed through an exhibition while its operator, situated 290 kilometers away in Genoa, controlled its movements.
Stefano Dafarra from the Italian Institute of Technology, part of the iCub 3 team, envisions the robot being used for remote event attendance, reducing the necessity for physical travel. However, challenges remain, such as the potential damage to the robot in case of a fall, and uncertainties about its ability to stand up independently.
Jonathan Aitken at the University of Sheffield acknowledges the iCub 3’s advancements but expresses a desire for clearer information on the data transmission requirements of this new version, emphasizing the importance of understanding the data usage parameters.