Imagine a surgeon transporting her skills to save a life halfway around the world – in real time – without ever leaving Las Vegas. Or a first responder rendering aid in a disaster zone anywhere on Earth, but from the safety of a university laboratory.
It sounds like something out of a movie, but the technology that may one day make this possible is happening right here on UNLV’s campus.
Student and faculty engineers from UNLV’s Drones and Autonomous Systems Laboratory have developed a system in which a humanoid robot acts as an avatar – a controllable extension of a person remotely operating it using wearable technology. The robot can walk, see, hear, talk, and even feel anything it’s engaging with.
This Friday and Saturday, the team’s hard work and incredible skills will be put to the ultimate test in the finals of the $10 million ANA XPRIZE competition. This global event draws top tech talent from labs and universities worldwide to compete in a high-stakes obstacle course, where UNLV's robot, nicknamed Avatar-Hubo, must showcase its capabilities in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.
I invite you to read more about Team UNLV and the path to prepare Avatar-Hubo for competition. I’m sure you’ll be as amazed as I am. And if you’re interested in watching the competition, you can stream it live on the XPRIZE website. Regardless of the outcome this weekend, it’s clear that this team of world-class researchers from our College of Engineering represents some of the very best of UNLV.
Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.