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My out-of-body experience controlling a robotic avatar


Android robots that can patrol by themselves or be controlled by humans remotely could be used to carry out tasks in dangerous environments, such as high-voltage power plants. Developed by Norwegian robotics company 1X, EVE is one such device. On show at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in London last week, I got to take control of this telepresence android that has found its first job as a night-time security guard within the aerospace industry.

The first time I tried on the headset that allowed me to virtually inhabit EVE was a little disconcerting, seeing my own body from a couple of metres away and waving at my human self with machine arms, but the experience quickly felt surprisingly normal. It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see an entirely new class of job — human android operator — becoming standard in the very near future.

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