Recent advancements in Virtual Reality (VR) and sensing devices have allowed for an increased use of them in telerobotics. Developing our system for the iCub robot (http://www.icub.org), which is the most standardized humanoid research platform for cognitive research, allowed us to envisage uses like:
- Wizard of Oz Human-Robot Interaction studies with much more natural behavior of the robot, since the operator maps his movements to the robot.
- Body Ownership Experience studies, where the modalities that give the illusion of being in “another body” (or in the robot in this case) can be examined.
- In the Cognitive Mirroring project where the robot can be trained from different persons and acquire their models but with the human behavior corresponding much better to the robot’s abilities
However, such a system has to have the lag between user and robot minimized to avoid feelings of nausea and discomfort for experience by many VR users, but also for maintaining the “out of body, inside the robot” experience.
Using the Panoramic View Reconstruction method (Theofilis et al., 2016), where we achieved very low perceived delays for the user of the VR and the robot, was an important step towards that goal. The method creates a panorama that is projected to the user but its update with the incoming images is done in a way that the human’s head position seems to be the same at the robot’s. Apart from the reduction in delays, the method helped greatly to mitigate unpleasant effects that VR headsets often cause to users and increase the feeling of presence in the virtual space. A user study showed massive difference in comfort using the Panoramic View method (Orlosky et al., 2020).