Reachy is a robot in development by Pollen Robotics that can be controlled by a remote user wearing a VR headset and holding motion-tracked controllers. This means that the user’s head movements are mapped to the robot and the user’s hand movements are also 1:1 matched by the robot. We’ve already seen hints of this technology popping up across various industries, including for space flight and surgeries, so it’s great to see it slowly seeping out into more areas.
Going beyond the real-time movement mapping, you could theoretically “teach” a robot how to perform tasks using this method as well. In the video above we see the robot using fine motor skills to place blocks in a bucket based on shape, input time on a microwave, and more.
This type of technology is important because, once the tracking gets really, really good, it functionally allows people to “teleport” their “presence” (ie telepresence) across the world and potentially even into space at some point. In terms of potential, that would allow a top surgeon in the USA to perform an operation on an injured soldier on the front line, or to a robot stationed in a hospital in another country. That’s likely very far away from becoming a reality, but this is one step closer to that.
Uses extend far beyond just medical as well, as there are already experiments to get humanoid-style robots into space craft to help simulate effects on the human body, perform simple tasks, and help alleviate deep space isolation effects.
Reachy from Pollen Robotics is an open-source robotics platform available for research and prototyping, starting at $17,000.