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Defence agencies explore market for telexistence


Mark Say Managing Editor

The Ministry of Defence is looking at how telexistence capabilities could improve UK defence and security.

Real hand and robotic hand

Its agencies the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have begun to run a market exploration as part of the Emerging Technologies for Defence (ETD) programme.

A telexistence capability can be defined as a system, or system of systems, which allows a human user to operate in an environment without physically being there.

This could be achieved by using a remotely operated avatar, which relies on the integration of: telepresence (which enables the user to see and hear as though in the remote environment); robotics (which enables the user to interact with the remote environment); and haptic feedback (which provides sense of touch).

DASA and Dstl said that the market exploration is aimed at understanding the maturity of the technology and its potential use in defence and security. This is intended to help identify gaps for the direction of potential investment.

Mitigating risk

Potential solutions should enable a user to interact with or immerse themselves in a remote location. This would contribute to mitigating the risk in operating in hazardous locations and can include elements of artificial intelligence, although it must permit the operator to remain in the loop.

The agencies said they are interested in learning more about telepresence platforms, robotic systems and haptic sensory information. The latter might enable users to operate to levels of fine dexterity.

They also pointed out that the exercise is not a commitment to launch a formal DASA competition.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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