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Ground-breaking robotics partnership adds depth to dexterity with exciting results

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

As many of you have no doubt seen with EE’s famous tv advert, the world of teleoperated robotics is constantly advancing. But beyond attention grabbing stunts, one of the ultimate aims is to apply this technology to take people out of hazardous or dangerous work situations and have a robot do it instead.

Now, thanks to a recent virtual reality (VR) experiment between Extend Robotics and Shadow Robot, achieving that aim is one step closer.

This robotics partnership happened as part of the Value of Joint Experimentation in Digital Technologies for Manufacturing and Construction (VOJEXT) project.

VOJEXT is a Horizon 2020 project which strives to provide a new generation of user-friendly frameworks for collaborative robotics for the needs of the manufacturing and construction industries.

The project recently ran an open call for smaller companies to pitch their technology to extend the capacity and outreach of existing VOJEXT demonstrators through a number of different challenges.

Extend Robotics was the startup selected for Challenge 3 – Visualization of point cloud in a VR headset. The aim was to improve the Shadow Robot system’s usability, allowing the user to navigate environments through the use of VR.

Shadow Robot have been developing dextrous robotics for around 25 years, recently with a focus on teleoperation. The company builds next-generation robot hands and systems with advanced dexterity to help solve challenging problems and provide a meaningful purpose for robotics.

Ethan Fowler, TeleOp Technical Lead at Shadow Robot, explained the reason behind their involvement in this partnership:

“We found that one of the things that we were lacking was depth perception… when you’re trying to do a remote task, being able to tell how far away things are and make the robot hand reach that position is extremely difficult.

Extend Robotics has done a lot of work in improving those technologies – their volumetric streaming is something that looks extremely promising.”

The two robotics companies believe their combined technology could have a big impact in manufacturing and construction industries. They also see it being of great value in industries where there is a need to handle hazardous materials like spent nuclear fuel rods, where a high degree of dexterity precision is crucial.

Dr Chang Liu, founder and CEO of Extend Robotics, said:

“This partnership will take the industry of remote robotic operations to the next level.”

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