A Chat with Dr Chang Liu, Founder & CEO at Robotic Teleoperation Company: Extend Robotics

Extend Robotics is a UK startup using consumer virtual reality (VR) technology to make it easier for individuals to control robotics hardware remotely. Unlike most robotic companies, our vision is to extend human capability beyond physical presence, instead of replacing them.

Our technology enables people to work remotely on a wide range of physical tasks with robots, such as liberating people from undertaking dangerous tasks in hazardous industries. It can also increase access to global workforces, reducing the need for expensive and environmentally damaging international travel.
Extend Robotics | Robotic Teleoperation | Robotic Arm Software | United  Kingdom

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

For those of us working in this field, it’s a really exciting time for this form of technology, with a boom in the growth of robots being used in real-world applications. But there’s also a human element to this revolution, with technology undeniably going to replace jobs, and lots of them. Not only in production lines, warehouses and manufacturing, but in supermarkets, restaurants and even hospitals.

Although new jobs will be created, the technical expertise currently needed in those roles (like a robotic engineer) are hugely different from the ones being replaced (like a production line worker), requiring a rapid skill shift for today’s workforce. So, the question is less about if or when this revolution will happen, and more about how we deal with it.

I created Extend Robotics as a way to make people a crucial part of this process. Using accessible, consumer technology, we enable anyone to teleoperate and automate robotics with minimal training, in the process ensuring no one gets left behind.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The pandemic has rapidly increased engagement in the concept of remote working from both employers and employees alike. While this has largely been for traditionally office-based roles, there is a growing interest in how remote working can also be applied to physical tasks.

Coupled with the roll-out of 5G that began over the same time period, we’ve been receiving more varied and some surprising enquiries about how our technology can improve or enhance their processes.

What can we hope to see from Extend Robotics in the future?

We’ve very recently had our Advanced Mechanics Assistance System (AMAS) join the ecosystem of the world’s largest collaborative robot vendor, Universal Robots. This not only acts as endorsement of our solution, but gives us access to bigger global markets.

As we look further forward, the greater reliability, ultra-low latency, enhanced security and increased capacity with high bandwidth offered by 5G can help supercharge remote working through services like ours. Already we’re working with telecoms companies as a way to showcase what 5G can offer, and we’re excited to demonstrate how our VR-based remote operated robotics solutions can have a positive impact on a wide range of real-world scenarios, such as industrial hazardous material handling, logistics, hospitality services and healthcare industries.