Smart man machine interfaces turn out to be a key technology for service robots, for automation applications in industrial environments as well as in future scenarios for applications in space. For either field, the use of virtual reality (VR) techniques showed a great potential. At the IRF a virtual reality system was developed and implemented which allows the intuitive control of a multi-robot system and different automation systems under one unified VR framework. As the developed multi-robot system is also employed for space application, the intuitive commanding of inspection and teleoperation sequences is of great interest. In order to facilitate teleoperation and inspection, we make use of several metaphors and a vision system as an `intelligent sensor'. One major metaphor to be presented in the paper is the `TV-view into reality', where a TV-set is displayed in the virtual world with images of the real world being mapped onto the screen as textures. The user can move the TV-set in the virtual world and, as the image generating camera is carried by a robot, the camera-viewpoint changes accordingly. Thus the user can explore the physical world `behind' the virtual world, which is ideal for inspection and teleoperation tasks. By means of real world images and with different measurement-services provided by the underlying 3D vision system, the user can thus interactively build up or refine the virtual world according to the physical world he is watching through the TV-set.