The Tachi Laboratory is presided over by Dr. Susumu Tachi, Professor Emeritus of The University of Tokyo, which has been pursuing the establishment of science and technology for human augmentation and applying the science and technology in assisting human beings, such as guide dog robots, haptic virtual reality, and telexistence. The laboratory’s work includes research on robots and virtual reality that benefits human beings and robots that assist various human functions as artificially intelligent tools, rather than as completely autonomous entities working independently. Robots help human beings by augmenting lost human functions and/or expanding our capabilities for a better life. The unique feature of this technology is that the subjects are human beings, rather than machines. Since the 1970s, the laboratory has consistently studied robots by considering them extensions of our physical selves, for example, “alter ego robots,” “surrogates,” and “incarnations” or “avatars,” for more than 40 years. The laboratory belongs and has belonged to the following institutions:
-From September 1, 1989 to March 31, 2009:
Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), The University of Tokyo
-From April 1, 1994 to March 31, 2009:
Department of Mathematical Engineering and Information Physics, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Tokyo
-From April 1, 2001 to March 31, 2009:
Department of Information Physics & Computing, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology,
The University of Tokyo
-From April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2015:
Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University (KMD)
-From April 1 to the present:
Institute of Gerontology, The University of Tokyo
The Tachi Laboratory was preceded by the Remote-Control Division (later renamed the Biorobotics Division) of the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, from May 1, 1975 to December 31, 1990.
A good example of robotics research on alter ego robots or extensions to ourselves is the “Guide Dog Robot” research conducted from 1976 to 1981. A blind person uses a robot instead of his own eyes to gain free walking. Further, the concept of “safety intelligence,” which is considered necessary for future robots, originated from the “intelligent disobedience function” of this guide dog robot research. Based on the visual transmission part of this research, a system that communicates vision to visually impaired people by conveying electric tactile sensations on one’s forehead has been put to practical use and made commercially available.
In 1980, we advocated the concept of “telexistence,” whereby human beings use robots as their surrogates or alter egos. This was simultaneously a proposal for a new use of a robot and a new invention whereby humankind could transmit its existence to a remote place. In addition to advocating this concept, we analyzed the mechanism by which human beings reconstruct three-dimensional audiovisual spaces in their minds; established the design principle of the telexistence system; and constructed a physical demonstration system, such as the TELESAR series, by utilizing human sensory characteristics and robotic technology through years of research for almost the past 40 years. The TELESAR's avatar robot system demonstrates the engineering feasibility of telexistence by enabling people to experience realistic feelings in real time even though they do not physically exist at the place that generates the feelings.
Present research themes include:
-Telexistence- telexistence communication, mutual telexistence, and haptic telexistence using Telexistence Surrogate Anthropomorphic Robot (TELESAR).
-Telexistence wide-angle immersive stereoscope (TWISTER), which has full-color autostereoscopic display with 360-degree field of view.
-RPT (Retro-reflective Projection Technology), which includes Optical Camouflage and Transparent Cockpit.
-Autosteroscopic and Haptic Virtual Reality, which includes Repro3D, a full-parallax autostereoscopic 3D display with haptic feedback using RPT, and HaptoMIRAGE, a multi-usered wide-angle aerial autostereoscopic display in augmented reality environments.
-Haptics based on Haptic Primary Color Theory, including electro-tactile display with receptor selective stimulation, TECHTILE toolkit, haptic camera (GelForce), tangible 3D display (GravityGrabber, GhostGlove, Pen de Touch) and Haptic Editor.