Extend Robotics

Extending human capabilities with virtual reality software

Published 9 January 2024 Last updated 9 January 2024

Extend Robotics has set its sights on the offshore energy sector, seeking to explore the potential of remote robotic operations, particularly in the inspection and maintenance of assets. Its technology offers seamless collaboration between humans and robots from remote locations, making work cheaper, safer and more efficient.


About Extend Robotics

While many robot companies aim to replace the work of humans, Suffolk-based Extend Robotics has a different approach. Driven by a mission to enhance human abilities without replacing them, its robotic software is designed to scale up the use of robots while enabling remote work through a combination of the metaverse, robotics, and AI. Its immersive human-robot interface software allows non-experts to operate the robots from remote locations to carry out tasks.

Extend Robotics’ technology is already adopted in industries like nuclear and telecommunications. The company is now exploring the potential to deliver remote robotic operations to the offshore energy sector focusing on the inspection and maintenance of assets.

In the age of robotics, there’s a global challenge of skill mismatch due to automation, which is the application of technology to achieve outcomes with minimal human input. Low-skilled jobs are at risk, while a shortage of automation experts looms. Extend Robotics’ technology breaks geographical barriers, cuts labour and travel costs, and provides a safe working environment. It simplifies complex tasks and enhances automation’s reach, making it accessible to non-experts.

The technology

Currently, the operation of robots poses significant barriers to their widespread adoption in various markets. Typically, control systems are based on physical joysticks and lots of flat 2D screens, which are extremely expensive, hard to use and require highly skilled operators. Despite the high cost and skills required, this can still result in slow operation and unpleasant motion sickness.

Remote Maintenance Operation Solution by Extend Robotics for Control Rooms in remote locations

Extend Robotics’ technology addresses these shortcomings with its user-friendly gamified human-robot system using Extended Reality technologies such as VR and AR. It has created a 3D graphics and streaming engine that visualise a workspace, mimicking elements of a video game, and allows everyday users to control a wide range of commercial robots using affordable consumer-grade VR equipment.

By combining human expertise with automation, Extend Robotics accelerates the automation process and allows machines to learn and adapt to human intelligence. It has designed tools like immersive telepresence and interactive digital twins to allow subject matter experts to easily watch, step in, and control robots over the internet, without needing extensive training. The automation co-pilot helps robots learn from human guidance, reducing the need for extensive human supervision over time.

Support received by Launch Academy East of England

Dr Chang Liu, CEO, said: “With the support from Launch Academy East of England, we are looking for potential applications of remote robotic operations within the offshore energy sectors.

“We want to explore opportunities to assess, demonstrate and trial systems that can bring value to the offshore energy sector. This will benefit integrators, service providers and end-users to enhance operation safety and efficiency, especially for inspection and maintenance-related tasks.

“Additionally, we’re interested in establishing collaborations with companies to deliver maintenance and inspection solutions. We are enthusiastic about engaging with users to gain insights into their requirements and to foster research and development partnerships.”

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Imogen Stevenson

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