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IEET > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Valkyrie Ice McGill

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The RTU (Remote Telepresence Unit) Is Born

Valkyrie McGill
By Valkyrie McGill

Posted: Oct 24, 2012

Considering the sheer number of times I get told I’m insane by people who refuse to believe the possibilities I discuss for the various technologies I write about, it’s hard to resist the occasional “I told you so.”

But… I told you so.

Back in September of 2010, I wrote an article titled “Fly Your POV Around with Your Own personal Quadcopter.” In that article, I discussed using such quadcopters as “Remote Telepresence Units” by connecting a camera and microphone to one, connecting it to a “smartphone” or other computing device, and enabling someone to use it as a “surrogate.”  I even discussed connecting an Emotiv Epoc style BCI to the device to allow control of the RTU by simply thinking about it.

And, like so many other devices I discuss, it was dismissed.  People claimed it was not feasible; batteries were too weak; copters were too expensive; quadcopters were just toys anyway, etc. And yet here we are a year and a half later, and we have such milestones as K Eric Drexler asking “Where are the Parrots?” in a blog discussing the recent Japanese reactor disaster in which he points out that the “Parrot AR” drone, a commercially available quadcopter controlled by a smartphone application, could have been used to inspect the reactors for a fraction of the cost of the two track-based drones used, and could have done the job in a fraction of the time. In fact, with the cost of such drones being less than $300 USD each, they could have easily been considered “expendable,” and sent into areas deemed “too risky” for the larger and far more expensive drones used. In addition, you have Drones playing the James Bond Theme, showing off sophisticated swarming skills, and building a six-foot tower. All of this shows the validity of the ideas for the uses one could put an RTU to in the original article I wrote, but all that progress is still not the RTU I described, but autonomous drones carrying out preprogrammed actions.

However… This is:

By the way, that’s a Parrot AR drone. A laptop, and an Emotiv Epoc BCI device. It’s built exactly from the components I described in the original article. All it would need now is a decent VR headset, like the Oculus Rift and a basic RTU is born. Give it the ability to connect to the internet wirelessly, and the RTU drone could be controlled from anywhere in the world.

So, yeah, I told you so. The RTU is born. Now get ready, because in a few years, they will start to become as commonplace as smartphones, and our world will never be the same.

Valkyrie Ice is a writer and futurist for and H+ magazine.
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