13.3 Robotic Interfaces

Robots are programmable devices that involve a mixture of sensors, actuators (motors), and computational devices. They are usually expected to interpret high-level commands, use sensors to learn about the world around them, and plan and execute actions that move them safely to accomplish the goals set out by their commanders. Their components mimic those of humans in many ways. Robots have sensors and humans have senses. For some specific correspondences, robots have cameras, IMUs, and joint encoders, whereas humans measure the same quantities via vision, vestibular, and proprioceptive senses. Most robots have motors and humans have muscles, both of which serve the same purpose. Robots perform computations to relate high-level goals to low-level motor commands while interpreting data from sensors. Humans reason about high-level goals as well, while sending motor signals to muscles and turning stimuli from senses into perceptual phenomena. After making so many parallels between robots and humans, a natural question is: Why not use VR technology to allow a human to inhabit the body of a robot? We could use robots as our surrogate selves.

Steven M LaValle 2020-01-06