Digital twin combines robot control and VR

Digital twin combines robot control and VR

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Toppan in Japan has developed a digital twin to centrally manage and control multiple robots of different types.

TransBots links real-world spaces at exhibitions and venues with replica VR spaces in real time and enables centralized management and coordinated control of multiple robots. Using a management dashboard, operators can set courses in a VR space for the movement of robots. Robots in the real space estimate their current location and can move autonomously and safely to their destination, avoiding obstacles on their designated courses and speaking to ensure the safety of people in the vicinity. Being able to set courses in a VR space means that robots can also be controlled remotely from distant locations.

These functions are expected to enable a range of possible applications that include remote participation in exhibitions and large-scale events with restricted admission and provision of online medical services to island residents. In addition to telepresence robots, the use of various other services robots, such as transportation robots, mobile picking robots, and drones, will also be possible.

Launch of commercially available services is planned for 2022 following pilot testing of telepresence robot services linked to hospital services, such as doctors’ rounds, medical examination, distribution of medication, and consultations, and to facility usage, such as meetings and reception services at shared offices.

Using a digital twin approach with a model of each robot in the central server allows management and coordinated control of multiple robots in the VR space in the movement of robots in the real space. Even when multiple robots are present within the same space, they are able to determine each other’s positions and avoid collisions.

As the path for the robot is set from the management dashboard, the robots estimate their current location and move autonomously to their respective destinations while avoiding obstacles on their designated courses and speaking to ensure the safety of people in the vicinity. Anyone can control the movement of robots because course setting requires no advanced expertise and operators do not need to perform complex operations.

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TransBots has been adopted as the robot-enabled remote participation system for the World Robot Challenge, part of the World Robot Summit 2020 (WRS2020) being held in September in Aichi) and October in Fukushima this year. Multiple telepresence robots controlled remotely will move around the competition venue, and live footage filmed by the robots will be streamed via WRS Virtual


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