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REALM

Research and Education Activities in Laboratory Mechatronics (REALM)

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Long-distance laboratory learning

Department of Computer Science, University of Western Ontario


Robotics help people perform tasks that are mind-achingly repetitive, require extreme strength or acute precision, or take place in hostile environments. However we have yet to fully realize the power and potential of robotics technology in revolutionizing the way we live, learn, and play.

The Research and Education Activities in Laboratory Mechatronics (REALM) platform may change that. By allowing high school and university students to remotely control robotic equipment for research and lab experiments, this software platform is bringing robotics to the imaginative young minds that are creating our future.

REALM works like a long-distance lab assistant: people use their web-browser to watch live video of a robotic arm while sending commands to control it.

It can also help scientists control large, expensive and physically fixed research equipment from remote locations.

Education plus research

REALM works like a long-distance lab assistant: people use their web-browser to watch live video of a robotic arm while sending commands to control it.

This provides students with access to various types of lab facilities, educating them not only with hands-on science experiments but also in the fields of telepresence and robotics. But REALM is not limited to just robotics. It can also help scientists with active research projects that need to control large, expensive, and physically fixed research equipment from remote locations.

Making science democratic

REALM helps give students opportunities that might otherwise be impossible, especially if their schools are in remote locations (like Northern Canada). For the science community, it lets valuable equipment be fully utilized. REALM also helps open up inaccessible locales – environmental monitoring of our coastlines and ocean floor, high-radiation or corrosive-gas environments, and exploration through planetary probes.

Finally, REALM’s ability to control remote machines helps scientists and students avoid the time and expense of travel, and allows institutions to avoid purchasing their own equipment, fostering innovative cost-sharing arrangements like collaborative ownership. Making science accessible to more people helps benefit all Canadians by instilling curiosity and excitement about science in students who will be tomorrow’s leading engineers and scientists.

Continued Contributions

REALM is the brainchild of a team at Western University, and grew out of an earlier CANARIE-sponsored project known as Science Studio. The platform contributes device control software and robotic software services for building future robotics applications to the CANARIE software registry.

Funding for the development of REALM was provided
through CANARIE’s Research Software Program.

Additional Resources

Technical specifications and REALM Fact Sheet
REALM website