PRoP 2
PRoP 1
PRoP 0







Interfacing Reality



Space Browsers: A Tool for Ubiquitous Tele-embodiment

The first PRoPs were simple airborne tele-robots we named Space Browsers first designed and flown in 1995.  The Space Browsers were helium-filled blimps of human proportions or smaller propelled by several lightweight motor-driven propellers. On board each blimp was a color video camera, a microphone, a speaker, and the electronics and radio links necessary to enable remote operation.  The entire payload was less than 600 grams (typically 400-500 grams). We used the smallest blimps that could carry the necessary cargo in order to keep them as maneuverable as possible.  Our space browsers ware able to navigate hallways, doorways, stairwells, and even in the confines of an elevator.  We experimented with several different configurations, ranging in size from 180x90 cm to 120x60 cm and shapes from cylinders and spheres to  "pillow-shaped" rectangles.  We found he smaller blimps were best-suited for moving into groups of people and engaging in conversation with minimal disruption since they took up no more space than a standing person.  The browsers were designed to move at a speed similar to a human walking.

The basic principal was that a user anywhere on the internet could log into a browser configured to pilot the blimp.  The system used a Java applet to send audio to the blimp, to control its locomotion and retrieve audio and visual information.  As the remote user guided the blimp through space the blimp delivered live video and audio to the pilot's machine using standard tele-conferencing software.  The user could thus observe and take part any remote conversation accessible by  the blimp.  These blimps allowed the user to travel, observe, and communicate throughout 3D space.  He could observe things as if he was physically there.

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