THEY’RE not quite as impressive as the fictional characters introduced to a global audience by billion-dollar blockbuster Avatar.
But these remote-controlled robots – the brainchild of a Huddersfield entrepreneur – are based on the same principles that inspired James Cameron’s Oscar-winning movie.
In the film, paraplegic former marine Jake Sully heads to the mythical planet of Pandora where he lives a virtual life through an artificially created being – or avatar.
In the real world in 2010, Peter Adu, of Osprey Drive in Netherton, is working on a project to create robots that would act as eyes and ears for disabled people.
He wants them installed in art galleries and museums – but controlled by people sitting at their own computers.
The gadgets would allow users to take a virtual tour of exhibitions and interact with other visitors without leaving the comfort of home.
Mr Adu, 30, said: “The idea is to give people more power and control over the choices about what they do during the day if they have mobility issues.
“It’s the evolution of virtual tours.
“No-one else has come up with this idea.”
Mr Adu – who describes himself as a social entrepreneur – came across people limited by disability during various positions of volunteer work.
He set up his own company, CORE (Cybernetics, Operating-systems, Robotics and Energy) Engineering, last year.
A £3,000 Business Link grant enabled him to carry out a feasibility study into the idea and he had some designs drawn up by a Huddersfield University student.
He has created a small demonstration toy to show how it would work.
Under the idea, a user would book a time-slot to connect to a robot and then log on through their computer.
They would then guide it around the museum or gallery using their mouse and use it to talk to people who were actually there.
“You could go to the Tate Modern without going there, saving money and effort” Mr Adu said.
“You could then decide if you wanted to go in person. It’s do-able.
“Putting the components and what they do into one robot is not technically challenging. It just needs a lot of work – and money.”
Mr Adu now needs to find £230,000 to pay for 11 phases of product design and two prototypes.
He said the project was not designed to make him money.
“You have to make money to survive, but it’s not for personal profit,” he added.
“Any revenue that came in would be reinvested in improving the product.”
More information about Mr Adu and the project is available at www.tcemk.org. People will soon be able to donate money towards the project via the website.