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Friday, 10th February 2012
In General Japan News,

Scientists in Japan create Avatar-like robot

The Hollywood movie Avatar may seem like a far off dream, but scientists in Japan have other ideas.

Researchers in the country have developed a robot that copies movements made by a person through special equipment worn by the controller, AFP reported.

Something that seems straight out of a science fiction film, scientists using the TELESAR V equipment can directly control a robot's actions, while it also enables them to hear, see and feel what the machine experiences.

The operator wears special headgear as well as a vest and gloves to communicate movements with the robot, while cameras in the android's eyes transmit what it can see back to the headset.

Microphones fitted to the robot play sounds back to the human operator, while small motors replicate what the robot's hands can 'feel' through the gloves that are being worn.

Researcher Sho Kamuro, who has been working on the project, told the news agency: "When I put on the devices and move my body, I see my hands having turned into the robot hands. When I move my head, I get a different view from the one I had before.

"It's a strange experience that makes you wonder if you've really become a robot."

It is, however, a long way away from the system featured in James Cameron's 3D movie blockbuster.

Regardless of this, Professor Susumu Tachi, a specialist in engineering and virtual reality who works at the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design, believes that it has the potential to be extremely useful.

Despite its famous technology industry, during the Fukushima nuclear crisis last year, Japan had to employ foreign machinery to investigate the reactors.

"I think further research and development could enable this to go into areas too dangerous for humans and do jobs that require human skills," Professor Tachi told the French news agency.

Plans to build a farm operated entirely by robots were announced by the Japanese government recently.

Written by Susan Ballion

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