ERIC MCCARTER REMEMBERS the first time he operated a forklift truck in France—while sitting behind a desk in California.

McCarter used the forklift to move a stack of pallets into a waiting truck using a setup resembling a video gaming rig. He sat behind a steering wheel and pedals that transmitted commands to the forklift thousands of miles away; large screens offered views in front, behind, and to the sides of the vehicle.

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