History of Robotics Research and Development of Japan2005Integration, Intelligence, etc.TELEsarPhone: Mutual Telexistence Communication System transmitting both presence and existence

Susumu TachiThe University of Tokyo
Naoki KawakamiThe University of Tokyo
Hiroyuki KajimotoThe University of Tokyo
Kouichi WatanabeThe University of Tokyo
Kouta MinamizawaThe University of Tokyo
TELEsarPHONE is a conceptual prototype of a mutual telexistence system, designed for face-to-face telecommunication via robots. Because of the development of telexistence technology, we can acquire a feeling that we are present in several actual remote places using remote robots as our surrogates and can work and act freely there. However, people in the place where someone telexists using a robot see only the robot, and they cannot feel the existence of the telexisting person. Mutual telexistence aims to solve this problem so that the existence of a telexisting person (visitor) is apparent to the people in the remote environment by providing mutual sensations of presence. On the basis of the concept of mutual telexistence, we have designed and developed a prototype of a telexistence master-slave system for remote communication by applying
retroreflective projection technology (RPT). In the TELEsarPHONE system, the face and chest of the slave robot TELESAR II are covered by retroreflective material. To provide the feeling of existence, the real-time image of the visitor is projected onto the robot so that people can see the visitor in real time. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept of mutual telexistence using RPT, the author and his team constructed a hardware system and exhibited it at Expo 2005 Aichi Japan as one of the prototype robots at the Morizo and Kiccoro Exhibition Center from June 9 through June 16, 2005. We assumed that the cockpit booth was located in Tokyo and the robot booth, which was a store specializing in selling stuffed toys, was located in Paris. The store had a telexistence communication robot in order to greet foreign customers without them needing to physically travel to the store. A person in the robot booth, which was supposed to be located on a street in Tokyo as a future extension of a telephone booth, could visit the store in Paris by using the telexistence communication system.

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