Operating factory robots with virtual reality

Computer scientists have developed a new system which could allow factory workers of the future to operate robots remotely.

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS (REUTERS) - For white collar workers, the Internet has transformed how people go about their business. Participating in an office meeting 'virtually' is commonplace.

But for blue collar workers, the same can't be said. Even as robots continue to enter the factories, human workers are still critical to many production processes.

Researchers are developing a system which allows workers to remotely control robots using a virtual reality space.

When a user puts on a VR headset, they enter the robot's head, seeing what the robot sees and controlling its arms and hands with controllers in a virtual space.

That virtual space is key, according to the researchers, because it allows a robot and human to sync up in a common space, avoiding the headaches and nausea associated with remotely controlling a robot directly due to signal delays.

The researchers still have a way to go to fine tune the system but are confident that in the future, blue collar workers may be able to take advantage of telecommuting in the same way white collar workers do today.