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British startup launches human-like VR-controlled robotic arm

Extend Robotics

Teleoperated Robots, in recent years, have come to prominence in various spheres of applications like space, underwater exploration, military, and more. 

Worldwide sales of service robotics exceeded $17 billion (approx £13 billion) in 2019, and this rapid and exponentially growing market is forecast to top $55 billion (approx £41 billion) by 2023, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR.org)

These robots are used in two scenarios – First, in situations where it is unsafe to place a human and secondly when it is hard to program a robot to autonomously perform complex tasks. Right now, there are lots of firms working on it, and one notable startup is Extend Robotics

Human-like, VR-controlled robotics arm at low cost

Recently, Extend Robotics, UK-based tech company announced the launch of its low-cost, human-like, virtual-reality (VR)-controlled robotics arm. As per the robotic SaaS company, it has use cases in various industries including healthcare, services, utilities, and energy. 

The robot toolkit features genuine real-time, immersive, and intuitive control using the latest VR technologies and reachability to six degrees of freedom (DoF). The teleoperated robotic arm can be easily operated remotely by a human operator. 

Take a look at the video at how the robotic arm works:

Plug and play solution

The company is currently developing its Robot Toolkit for widespread commercial use, offering a simple, easy-to-use, plug-and-play solution that is both low-cost and highly dexterous.

To date, teleoperation robotics solutions capable of human-level dexterity have been frustratingly expensive, costing anything from £500,000 upwards.

“At Extend Robotics, our vision is to extend human capability beyond a physical presence,” explains Dr. Chang Liu, founder, and CEO of Extend Robotics and former Research Associate at Imperial College, London. “Our mission is to democratise dexterous teleoperation at scale over the next three years, designing cost-effective robotic arms capable of remote operation from anywhere in the world, using cloud-based teleoperation software.”

“Our latest cybernetic bartender robot demo is a great example of an ‘out of the box’ teleoperated robot solution for the service and catering industry. We also plan to develop VR-controlled teleoperated robots featuring highly accurate, smooth and consistent, human-like movements to improve safety conditions and boost efficiencies across a number of other sectors: from agriculture and healthcare through to the utilities and energy industry.”

Developed around proprietary VR based user interface

The Reading-based robotics company is developing a wide range of affordable modular add-on robotic arms that are able to mimic human-like dexterity and that are fully compatible with third-party mobility platforms and end effectors. 

The company’s products are developed around a proprietary virtual reality (VR) based user interface for immersive 3D perception and intuitive control​, cloud-enabled anywhere-access with 5G​ , and scalable data-driven AI for future autonomy​. 

“Right now, as we approach the end of the COVID-19 crisis, we expect to see remote working as ‘the new norm’ across many industries, for numerous health, safety, and environmental reasons,” adds Dr. Liu. “2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for humanity, yet our hope at Extend Robotics is that the recent acceleration in R&D of remote teleoperated working robots will soon result in a wide range of safe, secure and affordable dexterity robot solutions across a number of industries worldwide.”

Extend Robotics targets various markets such as healthcare, Industry, Service, and Agriculture.