This was on the Gadget show the other week and shows the world most advanced Tele-existence robot, Telesar V. As you can see this technology allows you to remotely control a robot, become the robot – your movements, the things you see/hear/feel are all translated to and from this surrogate robot and yourself. Is is obviously in the early days of development, you have to wear the special equipment.. but could it potentially become the kind of thing you’ve all seen in films like Avatar or Surrogates? Is it another example of sci-fi technology becoming a reality?
This technology could have great uses in jobs that require humans to enter dangerous environments.. firefighters, nuclear/chemical plant workers (the researchers wish it could have helped at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant after the tsunami) or soldiers etc could all perform their jobs from safety. Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm recently unveiled a budget of $7 million for a project titled “Avatar” http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/02/darpa-sci-fi/ . As we go into the future the possibilities of what this technology could allow become more exciting/ useful – exploring space. Currently the time taken and dangers associated with travelling to far out planets makes it impractical for humans to undergo these trips.. but if we could send robots and control them from Earth as if the operator was actually there, then exploring more of our universe could become practical. As well as the search for planets that may be able to support life, in the future we may require natural resources from elsewhere as we use up Earth’s.. linking back to the Avatar film, James Cameron and some other rather rich people have just a announced plans to mine raw materials from asteroids http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17827347.
So where could this kind of technology lead… Advancements in robotics could allow these avatars to look and function identical (if not better) to you and if the human brain can be fully understood, could we reach a point where we can transport our consciousness into them – actually become the robot?
And then what could we do… Would people choose to leave their human body behind and live in an artificial robot body? Will we get to a time in the future where we’ve damaged our atmosphere so badly that entering a surrogate robot body is the only way we can go outside? Will we one day have the ability to download our mind and send it to a robot avatar on the other side of the world via the internet – that would definitely make the pain of travelling to your holiday destination a bit less arduous!