Home / Blog / VR controlled robotic arm

VR controlled robotic arm

This robotic arm can be controlled in a seamless way by an operator using VR. Image credit: Extend Robotics

Controlling robotic arms is something usually done via sensors and software that is pre-programmed. In several situation a direct control provided by a human operator is needed. The more sophisticated the robotic arm and the more complex the task it is involved, the trickier the control.

Extended Robotics, a British start up, has announced the availability of a software kit that allows the control of robotic arms using immersive Virtual Reality (watch the clip).

The robotic arm movements are controlled using a wireless ring the operator holds in her hand. The software transform the movement of the operator arm and hand in movement of the robotic arm, the VR goggles make the operator feeling like the robotic arm is actually her arm. This perception is further increased by the realisation that any movement of her arm and hand correspond to an equivalent movement of the robotic arm.

The software can also scale the movements and adjust the pressure to the task at hand: if it has to pick up an egg or a heavy object the pressure to be applied needs to be quite different.

Interestingly, Extended Robotics in its presentation of the software highlight the increasing interest of companies to enable remote operation also for activities that today are performed on the factory plan. The lock down that has been enforced onto several areas has affected production capabilities most. Whilst white collar activities have been moved to the cyberspace, work on the factory premises had to be stopped. The availability of these kinds of support may provide an alternative to physical presence also for these situations.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.