Touch-transmitting Telerobotic Hand at Amazon re:MARS Tech Showcase

TOKYO/SEATTLE/LOS ANGELES/LONDON, June 6, 2019 – After much anticipation, ANA HOLDINGS INC., HaptX, SynTouch, Shadow Robot Company unveiled the next generation of robotics technology at the Amazon Re:Mars Expo. Incorporating the latest advances from across the field of robotic and united by the ingenuity of ANA, the teleoperation and the telepresence system features the first robotic hand to successfully transmit touch sensations. Jeff Bezos Amazon’s CEO tried out the touch-sensitive, dexterous haptic robotic hand set up in an exhibit hall at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and described the experience as “weirdly natural.”

Bezos started out with a simple task: picking up a plastic cup and dropping it onto a stack of cups. He then played around with a palm-sized soccer ball and a rainbow ring-stacking puzzle stating “OK, this is really cool.” It was the first time the collaborators of this teleoperation and telepresence technology displayed their creation outside the lab, to an audience made up of experts in machine learning, automation, robotics and space, as well as the general public and to the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos.

Speaking to GeekWire Aerospace and Science Editor, Alan Boyle, Bezos looked over at the Rubik’s Cube on the table. “You want me to solve that Rubik’s Cube?” he joked. “I can’t even do that with my hands!” When it was time to move on, Bezos gave his trademark laugh and said, “that is really impressive.” He went on to say, “the tactile feedback is really tremendous.” After taking off the haptic gloves, one of the spectators asked Bezos how it felt. “Weirdly natural” he responded.

By combining Shadow Robot’s world-leading dexterous robotic hand with SynTouch’s biomimetic tactile sensors and HaptX’s realistic haptic feedback gloves, the new technology enables unprecedented precision remote-control of a robotic hand.  In recent tests, a human operator in California was able to operate a computer keyboard in London, with each keystroke detected through fingertip sensors on their glove and faithfully relayed 5000 miles to the Dexterous Hand to recreate.  Combining touch with teleoperation in this way is ground-breaking and points to future applications where we might choose – or need – to perform delicate actions at a distance, e.g. bomb disposal, deep-sea engineering or even surgery performed across different states.

Kevin Kajitani, Co-Director of ANA HOLDINGS INC. Avatar Division says, “We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible with these advanced Avatar systems and through telerobotics in general. In addition to sponsoring the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE, we’ve approached our three partner companies to seek solutions that will allow us to develop a high performance, intuitive, general-purpose Avatar hand. We believe that this technology will be key in helping humanity connect across vast distances.”

Jake Rubin, Founder and CEO of HaptX says, “Our sense of touch is a critical component of virtually every interaction. The collaboration between HaptX, Shadow Robot Company, SynTouch, and ANA brings a natural and realistic sense of touch to robotic manipulation for the first time, eliminating one of the last barriers to true telepresence.”

Dr. Jeremy Fishel, Co-Founder of SynTouch says, “Users will see just how essential the sense of touch is when it comes to dexterity and manipulation and the various applications it can have within industry.”

Rich Walker, Managing Director of the Shadow Robot Company says, “Our remotely controlled system can help transform work within risky environments such as nuclear decommissioning and we’re already in talks with the UK nuclear establishment regarding the application of this advanced technology. It adds a layer of safety between the worker and the radiation zone as well as increasing precision and accuracy within glovebox-related tasks.”

Paul Cutsinger, Head of Voice Design Education at Amazon Alexa says, “re:MARS embraces an optimistic vision for scientific discovery to advance a golden age of innovation and this teleoperation technology by the Shadow Robot Company, SynTouch and HaptX more than fits the bill. It must be seen.”

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Image Source: Shadow Robot Company – www.shadowrobot.com
Image Source: Shadow Robot Company – www.shadowrobot.com

About ANA

Following the “Inspiration of Japan” high quality of service, ANA has been awarded the respected 5-Star rating every year since 2013 from SKYTRAX. ANA is the only Japanese airline to win this prestigious designation seven years in a row. Additionally, ANA has been recognized by Air Transport World as “Airline of the Year” three times in the past 10 years – 2007, 2013 and 2018, becoming one of the few airlines winning this prestigious award for multiple times.

ANA was founded in 1952 with two helicopters and has become the largest airline in Japan, as well as one of the most significant airlines in Asia, operating 80 international routes and 118 domestic routes. ANA offers a unique dual hub model which enables passengers to travel to Tokyo and connect through the two airports in the metropolitan Tokyo, NARITA and HANEDA, to various destinations throughout Japan, and also offers same day connections between various North American, Asian and Chinese cities.

ANA has been a member of Star Alliance since 1999 and has joint venture partnerships with United Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Swiss International Airlines and Austrian Airlines.

Besides the full service and award winner carrier ANA, the ANA Group has two LCCs as consolidated subsidiaries, Vanilla Air Inc. and Peach Aviation Limited. The ANA Group carried 53.8 million passengers in FY2017, has approximately 39,000 employees and a fleet of 260 aircraft. ANA is a proud launch customer and the biggest operator of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. 

For more information, please refer to the following link. https://www.ana.co.jp/group/en/

About HaptX Inc.

Founded in 2012 by Jake Rubin and Dr. Robert Crockett, HaptX is a technology company that simulates touch sensation with unprecedented realism. HaptX Gloves enable natural interaction and realistic haptic feedback for virtual reality, teleoperation, and telepresence for the first time. HaptX is a venture-backed startup with offices in San Luis Obispo, CA and Seattle, WA. www.haptx.com

About SynTouch Inc.

SynTouch developed and makes the only sensor technology in the world that endows robots with the ability to replicate – and sometimes exceed – the human sense of touch. Its flagship product – the BioTac – mimics the physical properties and sensory capabilities of the human fingertip. Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Los Angeles, SynTouch develops tactile instrumentation that helps customers quantify how their products feel. www.syntouchinc.com

About Shadow Robot Company:

The Shadow Robot Company is one of the UK’s leading robotic developers, experts at grasping and manipulation for robotic hands. Shadow has worked with companies and researchers across the globe, looking at new ways to apply robotics technologies to solve real-world problems. They develop and sell the Dexterous Hand, recently used to advance research into AI, and the Modular Grasper, an essential tool for supporting industry 4.0. Their new Teleoperation System is being developed for the AVATAR X space program (their third space collaboration after NASA and ESA) and can be deployed in nuclear safety and pharma labs. www.shadowrobot.com

MEDIA CONTACT:

Contact Name: Ms. Jyoti Kumar

Role: Communications Officer at the Shadow Robot Company

Contact Email: jyoti@shadowrobot.com

Office Number: +44 (0)20 7700 2487​

The Tactile Telerobot is the world’s first haptic telerobotic system that transmits realistic touch feedback to an operator located anywhere in the world. It is the product of joint collaboration between Shadow Robot Company, HaptX, and SynTouch. All Nippon Airways funded the project’s initial research and development. It has been described as ” Weirdly natural… this is really impressive, the tactile feedback is really tremendous !” by Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. Learn more at tactiletelerobot.com

Interested readers can also view further information at: https://www.shadowrobot.com/telerobots/

And here is a youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rZYn62OId8&feature=youtu.be

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