Avatar competition

Robot firms team up in bid to win $5m prize

Skin test: Touchlab team

Two tech firms from Scotland and England have teamed up in an attempt to scoop a $5 million prize to develop a robotic avatar capable of replicating human senses.

Edinburgh-based Touchlab has joined forces with Sheffield company Cyberselves to form the only UK team competing at the ANA Avatar XPRIZE in California against 19 global rivals.

The competition, with a total prize pot worth $10million, calls for teams to develop physical robotic avatar systems to carry out tasks and replicate human senses, actions and presence to a remote location in real-time.  

The UK team unites Touchlab’s electronic skin (e-skin) for robots with Cyberselves’ robotics telepresence technology.

The finals of the competition take place on 4-5 November at the Long Beach Convention Center in Los Angeles.

Dr Zaki Hussein, founder and CEO of Touchlab, said: “The Avatar XPrize is about creating a new industry of telerobots to break down barriers and transport human presence anywhere, on earth and beyond. It is a competition not only about robots, but also what it means to be human.  

“Although we are pushing post-human barriers by blurring the line between self and non-self, we believe the sense of touch, along with seamless control, will allow for the operator to feel human while present through an ‘extended-self’ avatar. 

“We hope our partnership with Cyberselves shows UK solidarity while also serving as a catalyst to others. We all need to work together in a complementary fashion to bring about real impact and commercial applications in an industry whose potential is yet to be realised – both now and beyond the XPrize.”      

Daniel Camilleri, founder and CEO of Cyberselves, said: “This is a competition more than four years in the making, and over the past few months we really started to see how an official team-up between Cyberselves and Touchlab could result in something incredible for the XPRIZE finals.  

“Whilst the experience has been competitive, I think our team shows how collaborative and inclusive the tech world can be. Rather than just seeing each other as competitors we are instead thinking – I want to work with that team too and let’s go forward together to make something even better than we first planned.  

“We have admired how Touchlab works and have evolved their technology throughout the XPRIZE experience, and with similar values and a drive to create the most cutting-edge technology possible we knew combining our skills could lead to something great.

“Together, we are the only team from the UK heading out to California in November, and we are working hard to bring home a prize so watch this space.” 

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