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Innovative sensing and remote operation are required by the UK defense establishment. The technology of telexistence enables a person to have a real-time sensation of being at a place other than where they actually exist, and being able to interact with the remote environment. Telexistence offers several potential benefits to end-users. These benefits can be broadly categorized as strategies to reduce the risk to personnel and/or strategies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
As well as reducing risk, telexistence has the potential to reduce logistical burden and increase the speed at which users can be deployed.
The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), operating through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), are looking for technologies for a complete telexistence system. This will involve the integration of telepresence, robotic and haptic technologies on to a single platform.
In the Telexistence Phase 2 competition funded by Dstl and NDA, the organizations seek to understand the art of the possible, likely development pathways and exploitation opportunities for the technology concept of telexistence.
Examples for uses include casualty extraction; fire scene investigation; chemical, biological, radiological (CBR) disaster response and decontamination; ocean floor / naval damage exploration; space and the oil and gas sector.
The platform is expected to integrate telepresence, which enables the operator to see and hear as though in the remote environment; robotics/ wearable assistive technologies, which enable the operator to interact with the remote environment; and haptic feedback/ sensors which enable the operator to touch/ feel the remote environment.
The solution would offer advantages to capabilities where there are a limited number of specialists. Telexistence would allow these specialists to support several operations as and when needed, rather than being deployed to a specific operation in case their skills are required, according to gov.uk.
Telexistence also has the potential to reduce operational costs and environmental impact by minimizing the requirement for transport and allowing the fast insertion of remote individuals.