Japanese scientists create Avatar in real life, sort of

A group of Japanese researchers have developed technology that allows someone to wear a visor and a special pair of gloves to control a nearby robot. It's like putting yourself in place of the robot, from the comfort of sitting down. If that sounds at all confusing, how about we put it this way – it's like the movie Avatar but in real life. Oh yeah; you knew it was only a matter of time, right?

We may not be able to beam up Scotty or use the force on planet Earth just yet, but this instance of science fiction turning into real science is just as exciting. So with the visor over your head, what you see is exactly what the robot sees. Sensors in the robot, named Telesar V, can also relay sound. And as for the gloves, well they're lined with semiconductors and tiny motors to relay sensations of heat or texture.

So, yes, in addition to seeing and hearing exactly what Telesar V sees and hears, you can also feel what he feels. So far, though, there are no plans to send the little robotic buddy to a distant planet filled with Telesar cousins so humans can try to blend in and understand the alien population. What professor Susumu Tachi, who designed the bot, wants to use it for is to examine disaster areas that may be unsafe or impossible for humans to navigate. Obviously it was partially inspired by the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster last year.

[via Time]