Tactile Telerobots featured on WIRED

Friday, March 1st, 2019 | Source

Today WIRED published a story on the world’s first telerobotic hand to transmit realistic touch to an operator located across the world, made possible with SynTouch’s BioTac SP sensors. In a demonstration of the system, an operator in WIRED’s office in San Francisco used a haptic glove to control a dexterous robotic hand with SynTouch’s BioTacs in London. The BioTacs recorded tactile sensations on the Shadow Dexterous Hand which were then delivered to the HaptX Gloves and felt by the operator.


This exciting development paves the way for a new generation of telerobot systems with enhanced capabilities and dexterity. “Human hands that can’t feel are slow and clumsy, we shouldn’t expect more out of a telerobot that can’t feel,” said Jeremy Fishel, co-founder of SynTouch.

The international team of engineers that made this project possible included members of SynTouch in Chico, California, HaptX in San Luis Obispo, California, Shadow Robot Company in London and Madrid. ANA Holdings, headquartered in Tokyo and sponsors of the ANA Avatar XPRIZE, facilitated the collaboration as part of the company’s AVATAR X initiative.

Jeremy Fishel from SynTouch types “hello world” on the haptic telerobot system, feeling each keystroke along the way.

“I believe that a high-performance telerobotic hand is critical to advancing the capability of real-world Avatars,” said Kevin Kajitani, Co-Director of ANA AVATAR within ANA Holdings. “Developing a dexterous and intuitive telerobotic hand with immersive haptic feedback will open up a large range of use-cases for Avatars and bring us one step closer to enabling any human on earth instantaneously transport their skills to anywhere in the world and beyond.”

“This teleoperation system lets humans and robots share their sense of touch across the globe – it’s a step ahead in what can be felt and done remotely,” said Rich Walker, Managing Director of Shadow Robot Company. “We can now deliver remote touch and dexterity for people to build on for applications like safeguarding people from hazardous tasks, or just doing a job without having to fly there!”

Michael Eichermueller from HaptX grasps a an object while blindfolded using the telerobot’s sense of touch.

The system integrates the pioneering technologies of the three organizations, each leaders in their categories: Shadow Robot Company in dexterous robotic hands, SynTouch in biomimetic tactile sensors, and HaptX in realistic haptic feedback gloves. Motion data captured by HaptX Gloves controls the movement of the anthropomorphic dexterous hand by Shadow Robot Company. SynTouch’s BioTac sensors are embedded in each fingertip of the robotic hand to collect tactile data that is recreated as haptic feedback by HaptX Gloves to the user’s hand.

Technologies from Shadow Robot Company, SynTouch, and HaptX were seamlessly integrated to create the tactile telerobot.

“We know from psychophysical studies that the sense of touch is essential when it comes to dexterity and manipulation,” said Dr. Jeremy Fishel, Co-Founder of SynTouch. “This is the first time anyone has ever demonstrated a telerobot with such high fidelity haptics and control which is very promising and would not have been possible without the great engineers and technologies from this collaboration.”

“Touch is a cornerstone of the next generation of human-machine interface technologies,” said Jake Rubin, Founder and CEO of HaptX. “We’re honored to be part of a joint engineering effort that is literally extending the reach of humankind.”

The international team of collaborators in Tokyo, including members from SynTouch, Shadow Robot Company, HaptX, and ANA.

The hardware will be available for organizations that wish to research and develop applications for haptic telerobotics. Contact us at telerobots@syntouchinc.com for more information.

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