Have you ever wanted to become a real-life Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man? Well, one robotics competition saw a similar robotic suit take home a multi-million dollar prize. The best part? It was controlled with virtual reality.
At the 2022 XPRIZE robotics competition, multiple science teams competed with their own “avatar robots”. Seventeen different teams created robots that could be controlled from afar, mimicking the actions of a real human being.
During the competition, a $5 million prize was handed out to German robotics group Autonomous Intelligent Systems. From the University of Bonn, the group’s NimbRo robot was able to be controlled via a VR headset and arms, moving the robot in real-time.
Via ExtremeTech, the huge robot is made up of two huge robotic arms, each weighing 6.6 pounds. In order to see as the robot, the device has a tablet for a head that houses two 4K cameras. This allows the device to steam its view to the user’s VR headset.
To control the robot, the user wears both a HTC Vive VR headset and SenseGlove haptic gloves to control its arms. The SenseGlove devices capture the most minute movements of the user’s hands.
The NimbRo robot was tasked with manipulating items via its VR controllers. Instead of being controlled by its creators, it was used by an independent judge across an array of activities.
For example, the massive VR robot was tasked with using an electric drill to open a storage container and then pick up items from inside. Out of every robot available at the competition, this was the most impressive.
This isn’t the first time a VR controlled robot has been used. In Japan, the technology has been used to control massive mechs that are used for construction of power lines and other infrastructure projects.
The Doctor Octopus style robot tools are a becoming an popular alternative for construction and other intense tasks. With the user able to control them afar, they are becoming more versatile than ever before.