Using VR to Control Robots in Highly Constrained, High-Risk Environments | Karen Robinson

Using VR to Control Robots in Highly Constrained, High-Risk Environments

A new generation of robotic systems developed for use under water and in outer space can be controlled remotely via virtual reality. Karen Robinson shares the details.


Traditional industrial robots are rigid, difficult to program, unable to adapt to changing conditions, and often dangerous to people, themselves, and objects around them. They can get the job done, but often only on an assembly line where the environment is carefully controlled. Breeze Automation is working to develop a new generation of robots that are lightweight and safe to be around, yet also strong, robust, and able to adapt to change. Instead of metal powered by hydraulics, their robots are made from textiles and soft plastics filled with gases or liquids powered by pneumatic pressure. One recent project for the Office of Naval Research is a soft robotic arm that can perform complex tasks under water from a small unmanned vehicle. The system can be remotely controlled by a human operator on the surface using virtual reality. Karen Robinson shares the work and what it means for the roles that robots can play in our work and our world in the years to come.

About the speaker

Karen Robinson is an electrical engineer, entrepreneur, and co-founder and COO of Breeze Automation, a resident at the Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco. She has led initiatives related to handheld controllers at Google, worked in the development of touchscreens at Corning, and also specialized in robotic systems and backup power supplies. She holds degrees in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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