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"Science and science fiction, how do you even distinguish the two?"
- Jerry Pournelle

Control Helmet  
  Direct control of a robot from the brain.  

FIRE broke out in an unrenovated warehouse near the edge of the city one night. Doc and I drove to the scene in his atocar. There was a lot of inflammable and possibly explosive material. Someone shouted that a watchman had been overcome by smoke inside the building.

"Get him out, Charlie,” Doc said. "Your body is more agile than mine; your control of an artificial one will be the same.” Sitting in the car, I put the control helmet over my head. In it there was no old fashioned television screen, and no complicated guide levers. What the helmet did was detect and sidetrack the motor impulses from my brain, broadcasting their pulsations by short wave radio to the robot, which I thus guided as if it were my own form. Similarly, sensory impressions were radioed back to the helmet, there to be reconverted into impulses directly percep- tible to the sensory centers of my brain, without the intervention of my eyes, ears, and other sense organs. So, in effect I was living in a shape not handsome in a human way, stronger than my own, and far less limited. Like a demon I stepped out of the rear seat of the atocar on asbestos-shod feet. Propelled by steel muscles energized by a motor drawing current from an atomic battery, I walked past less intricately robotized fire-fighting equipment. Through smoke that would have strangled an unprotected man, I climbed a ladder and went through a window from which a plume of flame belched. I felt no inconvenience whatsoever. There was a thrill in that — like being something super...

With flames all around, I — or the machine — scrambled along a steel support, and through an opening in an inside wall. Flames had not penetrated there, and automatically I saw through the opaque smoke by radio waves sent out by, and bouncing back to eyes that belonged to the robot; parabolic antennas, they were. The images were visual and unblurred, and lacked only color...

Back at the car I made the robot polish the soot off itself with a cloth, and then climb into the rear seat to assume an inert position for transport, again. After that, I removed the helmet.

"Well, Charlie, another foretaste of the future, eh?” Doc said from behind the wheel. “Make way for tomorrow . . .

“Yeah,” I grunted raggedly. "Like being more than human.”

From Dawn of the Demigods, by Raymond Z. Gallun.
Published by Planet Stories in 1954
Additional resources -

Roger Zelazny uses a similar idea in his story Home is the Hangman; the control helmet of that story is important in that it transfers some of the psychological characteristics of the wearer to the malleable brain of the robot.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dawn of the Demigods
  More Ideas and Technology by Raymond Z. Gallun
  Tech news articles related to Dawn of the Demigods
  Tech news articles related to works by Raymond Z. Gallun

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