The flexibility of our telepresence system allows a myriad of applications, many of
those inspired by discussion with the group and industry representatives.
The cost of operations using deep water divers is extremely high due to safety
regulations, hyperbaric equipment, time spent in decompression, and support vessel costs.
Telepresence systems for inspection and teleoperation for repair and maintenance would
again realise cost benefits and in addition would remove divers from a hazardous
The presence of ionising radiation, in areas where physical work needs to be carried
out, has always meant that the nuclear industry needed remotely operated equipment for
material handling, inspection, and maintenance. For this reason much work has been carried
out and recorded in this area.
Outer Space and Planetary Work
Operations in vacuum and extremes of temperature and pressure are ideal for
telepresence activities. The main problem here is obviously the time lag between
transmission and receipt of signals both to and from the remote site. Nevertheless a
commercial plan, resulting from an agreement between a US company and a recently
privatised Russian company, has been announced to allow earthbound observers to be
telepresent on the moon by 1998
Other Hazardous Environments
Many other applications in situations where humans are exposed to hazardous situations
are readily recognised as suitable candidates for telepresence. Mining, bomb disposal,
military operations, rescue of victims from fire, toxic atmospheres, or even hostage
situations, are some examples.
Sensor platforms operating autonomously in robotic mode could monitor sensitive areas.
They could use software algorithms that would identify, for example, intruders. They would
then proceed to track these intruders while sending an alert to a human operator
requesting attention. The operator would don a head mounted display helmet and become
telepresent at the remote location and take over control of the sensor platform. This
would then allow the operator to investigate more fully.
The possibility of being able to project the knowledge and the physical skill of a
surgeon over long distances has many attractions. Thus again there is considerable
research underway in the subject. The armed forces have an obvious interest since the
combination of telepresence, teleoperation, and telerobotics can potentially save the
lives of battle casualties by allowing them prompt attention in mobile operating theatres
by remote surgeons.
The benefits of enabling schoolchildren to take an active part in exploration have been
shown by the JASON and the NASA Ames Research Centre programmes. The ability of a pupil,
student, or researcher to explore an otherwise inaccessible location is a very attractive
proposition. For example locations where the passage of too many people is harming the
immediate environment or the artefacts themselves, e.g. undersea exploration of coral
reefs, ancient Egyptian tombs and more recent works of art.
Advertising and Sales
Tour operators and property agents would be able to use telepresence to allow potential
customers to sample holiday locations and view properties remotely before investigating
Telepresence systems could be incorporated into theme or nature parks to allow
observers to travel through coral reefs, explore underground caves, or in amusement parks
the elderly or infirm could experience the thrill of live roller coaster rides without the