There are several telepresence robots on the market today that are typically nothing more than an iPad mounted on a remote control base that can be driven around. The DORA (Dexterous Observational Roving Automaton) is designed to make the operator feel like he or she is actually at the remote location. DORA was created by robotics researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.
The team pairs the DORA robot with the Oculus Rift VR headset and takes advantage of the head tracking capability the headset offers. The movements of the wearer’s head are sent to the robot, which is fitted with Arduino and Intel Edison microcontrollers.
As the Oculus wearing controller moves their head, the camera on the robot moves in conjunction with the wearer. The team says when done correctly the user feels as if they are actually in the meeting room or office where the robot is located.
An area of focus for the developers right now is reducing lag. Currently the lag is about 70ms. If the user has to operate the robot via WiFi or 4G service rather than a radio link, the lag gets even worse. The team wants to bring lag to less than 60ms.