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Rise of the robot avatar: From security androids to nuclear repairs, we test the latest robotic avatars


The world’s largest robotics conference, the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, came to London last week, where a dizzying array of cutting-edge robots were on display, including robotic dogs, flying robots, controllable androids and robot artists. But it was avatars – robots that allow a human to interact with and experience a remote location in real time – that were the hottest trend this year.

Thanks to advances in virtual reality technology and communication speeds, robots such as the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s MASCOT enable humans to remotely repair the insides of fusion reactors. Norwegian company 1X showed us EVE, a robot currently deployed as a remote security guard. But it was NimbRo’s avatar that really caught our eye. Fresh from winning the ANA Avatar XPRIZE competition, this dextrous robot has the fine motor skills and feedback response to let you play chess, or carry out a host of delicate tasks. Join Alex Wilkins as he tests it out.

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