The Scuola Sant’Anna team, composed of researchers, student and professor of Scuola Sant'Anna of Pisa, today announced that it has qualified to compete for the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE , a four-year global competition focused on the development of an avatar system that will deploy the senses, actions, and presence of a human to a remote location in real time, leading to a more connected world.
The team is made up of teachers and researchers from the two research areas of the Institute of Communication, Information and Perception Technologies and the Institute of Biorobotics, respectively the Human-Robot Interaction Area, coordinated by Prof. Antonio Frisoli in the The PercRo Laboratory, and the Artificial Hands Area, coordinated by Prof. Christian Cipriani, and of 15 excellent students of the Scuola, who attend undergraduate university courses of aerospace engineering, mechanics, robotics, electronics, bionics and computer science.
“ Our team is thrilled to qualify as we believe that this challenge will allow us to demonstrate the nowadays capabilities achieved by telepresence robotic systems” said prof. Antonio Frisoli, team leader of the Sant’Anna team. “Thus this system gives the possibility of using a robotic avatar to physically attend an event in a remote place in the world without moving from home or to help in saving lives during a health emergency, for example by intervening safely without exposing yourself to contamination”. An avatar able to do all this, and much more, is the ambition that is pushing researchers from all over the world to compete for the $ 10 million prize pool offered by the competition.
The Sant'Anna High School team will develop a semi-humanoid robotic avatar, endowed with advanced manipulation skills and enabling multimodal remote interaction. The use of two skillful arms and hands and an exoskeletal interface of the upper limbs will allow an intuitive teleoperation with enriched and precise tactile feedback. The proposed system, called Sully, named after Jake Sully the protagonist of the film Avatar, will be specifically designed to meet the requirements of mobility and bimanual physical and natural interaction with other humans.
An independent panel of judges selected the competitors that are advancing from a field of 99 registered teams. In order to qualify, teams had to answer a series of questions that outline the expertise, capabilities, and plan for the functional avatar solution that each team intends to create.
To win the competition, teams must integrate multiple emergent technologies to develop a physical, non-autonomous robotic avatar system that an operator can see, hear, and interact with in a remote environment. Avatars must demonstrate the ability to remotely execute tasks across a variety of real-world scenarios, and enable the operator to feel as if they are truly there while performing those tasks.
In the photo the robot avatar Sully in action. (Photographs of Francesca Gattai)
At the link the illustrative video of ANA AVATAR PRIZE Video