Disney Research shows off haptic telepresence robot

If you have ever been to a Disney park, you can understand why the company would be working on different types of robots. The part is filled with mechanical actors that move around and perform in many of the rides. Disney Research has unveiled a new telepresence robot that will have a much wider range of use than lip-synching "It's a Small World" in a creepy ride for kids. What the researchers at Disney Research have created is a new type of hydrostatic transmission that uses a hybrid air-water configuration.

This new transmission would be used inside of a robot and is said to be analogous to an N+1 cable-tendon transmission using N hydraulic lines and one pneumatic line for a system with N degrees of freedom. The common air-filled line would preload all of the degrees of freedom in the system according to the research paper accompanying the creation. The team says that the new transmission allows for the stiffness of a water-filled transmission with half the number of hydraulic lines previously required.

The new design achieves a 600% increase in specific work density per cycle using pairs of rolling-diaphragm cylinders to form rotary hydraulic actuators. This new transmission was then mounted inside a new haptic telepresence robot with a pair of arms with four degrees of freedom. The robot had stereo cameras mounted on a neck with 2 degrees of freedom. Those cameras stream live video to the head mounted display of an operator. That head mounted display sends real-time attitude of the operators head to the neck servos in the robot.

The result is a robot that can mimic the movements of the human operator remotely. The special hydraulic transmission allows the operator to directly feel interaction with forces between the robot and the environment the robot is working in. The video below shows more detail on the new robot.

SOURCE: Disney Research