Skip to Content

Teleoperated Design Revealed for Assistant Robots

A system lets users manage a team of robots through cloud computing.

Readybot, a research group that last year released videos of a simple prototype cleaning robot, has revealed that the robot is managed through a combination of cloud-based software and skilled remote teleoperators.

Readybot operates autonomously or through remote control. (Courtesy of Readybot)

The company’s Cloud Robotics Collaborative Control (CRCC) system monitors a semi-autonomous robot via a broadband connection. When faced with a particularly tricky task, such as opening a cabinet door, the robot will send a request for a human supervisor to step in and take over. The human operator does this by selecting or refining one of several prepared code of instructions (“scripts”) or writing new ones, according to Readybot’s director, Tom Benson. The CRCC system is designed to let a single user supervise a large team of robots.

“This has the potential to deploy large quantities of robots much sooner, because they’re cheaper and because you aren’t required to build high levels of autonomy,” Benson said. “It’s much more forgiving in the sense of allowing you to have less sophisticated systems and still do the job.” Benson says that Readybots would be best suited for applications like home assist or manual labor.

Using a regular mouse and monitor, a user can switch between 3D simulations of different robots (with a video feed showing the bot’s environment) and can swap between supervising and taking completely control of a robot. Currently, the software can control a single prototype Readybot and up to nine virtual robots.

The company says it took inspiration from video gamers by examining how people playing World of Warcraft, The Sims, and other games and designing the system based on those observations. Gamers who tested out Readybot’s operating software were able to operate it quickly and efficiently, according to the group. People who have played a lot of video games “can manage large amounts of remote devices and can think in that way,” says Benson. “They are capable of managing vast amounts of multitasking.”

Courtesy of Readybot

So far, Readybot can clear a kitchen table, load a dishwasher, transport objects, paint walls, and clean and dry surfaces. The group is currently looking for partners to build more prototypes and to expand the capabilities of CRCC.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other
conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other

Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love

Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.

digital twins concept
digital twins concept

How AI could solve supply chain shortages and save Christmas

Just-in-time shipping is dead. Long live supply chains stress-tested with AI digital twins.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.