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Robotics Science

Telepresence Robot Rundown 51

DeviceGuru writes "A handful of innovative high-tech startups have recently emerged to create a new market: remote telepresence robots. With one of these robotic Avatars, you can wander around in the remote environment, chatting with coworkers and managers, attending meetings, and solving problems encountered through those interactions. InformationWeek's Telepresence Robot Smackdown compares five such bots — the MantaroBot TeleMe, VGo Communications VGo, Anybots QB, Suitable Technologies Beam, and Revolve Robotics Kubi — and includes short videos demonstrating each. As the article concludes, 'bear in mind that what we're witnessing here is the emergence of a new industry; and if Moore's Law applies here as it does to so many IT spheres, it won't be long before these gadgets are inexpensive, commonplace, and far more flexible and intelligent."
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Telepresence Robot Rundown

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  • Re:Innovative? New? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:32PM (#42574937)
    Unfortunately your comparison doesn't hold. The Altair was a large box that could process a little information for a lot of money. The S3 is smaller, cheaper and can process more information. Everything has changed.

    However, a robot still has to deal with the same physical world, the same uneven floors, dirty carpets, pets, limited battery life and the general real world physicality. It doesn't matter if you have a better processor since the actual "rubber hits the road" part of the robot hasn't changed, and won't, ever.

    Do you want a hugely expensive robot to wash your dishes like a robotic human doll because you saw it in sci-fi, or do you want a perfectly adapted dishwasher for 200$ to do it? It doesn't matter if the robot doll has a 16 core CPU running a monstrous pile of software that wasn't possible 20 years ago, because it makes no fundamental sense to have a robot do that.

    We'll see in a year, shall we? I remember the Machina Sapiens robot toys being sold a few years ago for Christmas, and they were more flexible and powerful than the robot toys we had 20 years ago, and yet, the Machina Sapiens all ended up in the trash within months as they broke down and you can't find these toys anymore.

    In general, it fascinates me on Slashdot the same people who go on and on about how unreliable mechanical hard drives are, yet they lose their minds over much larger and more unreliable contraptions. I guess this also explains 3D printing. Which also die out in a few more years, just like VR in the '90s.

  • by AudioLight ( 631454 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:35PM (#42574955)
    I have worked with a remote telepresence robot for over 5 years now: [] It's quite an interesting social experience. There are many technical challenges to consider (batteries still being what they are). Admittedly, our implementation is more "hobbyist" than anything else, but it's a very functional POC.
  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:39PM (#42575877)

    I've seen several programs about children with severe allergies that cannot attend school with other kids. The telepresence robots allow them to virtually attend school, and participate in normal classes alongside their class mates. They can go to recess with their classmates, go to the cafeteria, and in general interact with the classroom, the teacher, and the other students in a way that they find to be pretty natural. Sure a webcam and screen would work, but being able to drive remotely and interact as kids do has proved to be very successful. The other kids interact with his avatar robot just as if he were really there. It's quite encouraging to for a child who otherwise would be extremely isolated.

    Maybe these are edge cases, but they do prove how this sort of technology can work.

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