Bringing real-world avatars into space – Shadow joins AVATAR X

Bringing real-world avatars into space moved one step closer as Shadow Robot Company joins the AVATAR X program. The AVATAR X program, led by JAXA and Ana Holdings Inc., is a new space program. The program is set to revolutionize space development. JAXA stands for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

According to Shadow Robot Company (Shadow), it will make living on the Moon and Mars a reality. It will also make living elsewhere in space a reality.

AVATAR X – integration of technologies

AVATAR X aims to speed up the integration of technologies such as robotics, AI, and haptics. AI stands for artificial intelligence. AI refers to software technologies that make robots, computers, and other devices behave like humans. It also makes them think like humans. Haptics is any type of interaction involving touch.

The integration of the three technologies will enable human beings to build camps on other planets remotely. It will also support long-term space missions.

Shadow says it will work closely with AVATAR X’ partners, leveraging its unique teleoperation system. It is a system it has already developed.

Avatar X symbolic structure design
According to JAXA: “Together with a growing list of public and private partners, AVATAR X hopes to catalyze new space-based businesses that will provide key services and an unprecedented level of access to space.” (Image:

Shadow’s Dexterous Hand

The new system consists of clever elements. It includes, for example, Shadow’s infamous Dexterous Hand. It is a robot hand that the operators can control with a PhaseSpace motion capture tool they wear on their wrist.

The CyberGlove and Motion Capture wrist tool both have mapping capability. Therefore, the Dexterous Hand together with the robot arm can precisely mimic the operator’s movements.

This revolutionary system allows the remote control of robotic technologies. At the same time, it also provides distance and safety.

Additionally, Shadow uses an open source platform that provides full access to the code. Therefore, users can develop software according to their own specific requirements.

Robot hands and arms
Full Bimanual Teleoperation System (Image:


Shadow will deploy and enhance its teleoperation system at AVATAR X Lab@OITA. AVATAR X Lab@OITA is the first Avatar (teleoperation) test field in the world.

The test field will be built in the Ōita prefecture (大分県) in southern Japan. It will have all the key research and telecommunication infrastructure engineers require to conduct Avatar tests.

Testing the technologies

After developing the technologies at AVATAR X Lab@OITA, rockets will take them to a space station in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Engineers and other professionals will test them at the space station. If all goes according to plan, humans can then use the technologies to explore other planets and deep space.

Rich Walker, Shadow’s Managing Director, said:

“We’re really excited to be working with ANA HD and JAXA on the AVATAR X program, and it gives us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how our robotics technology can be leveraged for avatar or teleoperation scenarios away from UK soil, deep into space.”

“We want everyone to feel involved at such a transformative time in teleoperation capabilities and encourage all those interested to enter the AVATAR X PRIZE competition.”