WATCH: Japanese Scientist Controls Avatar-Style Robot Surrogate

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AFP / YouTube

In another case of science catching up to science fiction, Japanese researchers have developed a robot that can be controlled through a special head-mounted display and a pair of gloves. According to AFP, the robot operator sees, feels and hears all of the things that the robot — named Telesar V — does.

The operator wears thin gloves lined with semiconductors and tiny motors that relay the texture and heat of whatever the robot is touching. The “eyes” and “ears” on the robot’s anthropomorphic head aren’t just there to look cute, either — they’re actually cameras and microphones that feed into the head-mounted display, allowing the operator to experience the world as the robot.

(PHOTOS: The Real Science of Avatar)

If the concept sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a familiar trope in science fiction movies, including the terrible Surrogates starring Bruce Willis, robo-boxing flick Real Steel and, of course, Avatar, although in that case the “machine” was a genetically engineered blue alien.

Telesar V will never see the inside of a robot boxing ring or sprint across an alien planet. Instead, professor Susumu Tachi of Keio University designed it to operate in disaster areas that are too dangerous for humans, like the nuclear site at Fukushima in Japan.

Another possible use, according to Tachi: “This could be used to talk with your grandpa or grandma living in a remote place and deepen communications.”

That’s right, Nanna — what better way to connect with your grandchildren, than through a terrifying mechanical man that lives in your closet?

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