PackBot Operators Get the ‘Novint 3D Touch’

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A Pacbot 510 deploying the 'Red Owl' multisensor payload on a semi-erected position during a field demo at the AUVSI 2007 event. Defense Update photo.
A Pacbot 510 deploying the 'Red Owl' multisensor payload on a semi-erected position during a field demo at the AUVSI 2007 event. Defense Update photo.

After developing 3D touch controllers for video and computer games, Novint Technologies is moving on to the real world, developing a Remote Touch Kit (RTK) for the PackBot, under contract from the robot manufacturer iRobot.

The RTK will enable the robot operator to feel how hard the PackBot’s “gripper” squeezes an object, safely pick up and handle fragile objects, and feel when the robot’s arm touches a wire or reaches a movement limit. When driving the robot, soldiers will also feel bumps and jerks of the robot, improving performance over rugged terrain.

Applying such sensory feedback is expected to reduced task times and operator burden, enhance situational awareness. The contract was awarded by iRobot, as part of project funded by the Secretary of Defense Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise through the Robotics Technology Consortium (RTC).

In 2007 Novint Technologies and Sandia labs introduced the first controller to make high-fidelity, interactive three-dimensional touch possible and practical for consumer computing applications. Novint develops 3D haptic technology and products that enable people to experience a realistic sense of touch using their computer. Using our 3D haptic interface device, the Novint Falcon, and patented 3D haptic software, computer users may feel 3D objects, feel their shapes and textures, feel the dynamic properties of objects, and feel many other effects. The Novint Falcon gives force feedback through interchangeable handles that a user holds on to.