Telepresence Using Artificial Muscles

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Haptic feedback interaction with virtual object is the first step towards telepresence
This area of my research combines the knowledge and skills that I gained working on my Masterís degree with the work I did as a PhD candidate. The focus of my Masterís research was on teleoperation with haptic feedback, especially through the Internet. Using haptic feedback, an operator, who remotely controls a robot, can feel the forces the environment applies to the robot. While visual and audio feedback have long been commonplace (e.g. images from the Mars Rover), haptic feedback has not yet become as popular. This is mostly due to the lack of a sensory medium that can reproduce a realistic feeling based on the various forces and material textures that the robot comes into contact with. While an LCD screen monitor can display realistic images of almost anything, no practical equivalent exists for tactile sensing. I believe that artificial muscles can provide this missing medium. Artificial muscles can not only apply the necessary forces, but also change their stiffness depending on the applied voltage.  This way, a person wearing a glove made of artificial muscles can interact with a remote environment with realistic tactile feeling or touch the hand of a loved one on another continent. Using my unique combination of skills in robotics, teleoperation and artificial muscles, and by collaborating with colleagues in robotics, I plan to develop tactile feedback devices using artificial muscles for such applications.
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Tissaphern Mirfakhrai