Telepresence robots are beginning to connect people in new ways in businesses, hospitals, and even classrooms. They're essentially webcams on wheels, serving as simple avatars that allow you to chat and explore another place. Now inexpensive versions that connect with your smartphone are beginning to appear for use at home. The latest of these comes is Helios from Hello Labs.
Suitable Technologies has revealed the Beam remote presence system, which boasts a 17-inch LCD display and reliable wireless connection thanks to four Wi-Fi radios. The same group previously developed a remote presence system called the Texai at Willow Garage
, which you may recall seeing on an episode of The Big Bang Theory
. Suitable Technologies was created specifically to refine the Texai and market it – the result was the Beam.
In a medical emergency, seconds count. But if the doctor needed is in another part of the hospital or even another part of town, then those seconds can stretch dangerously. If only the doctor could be in two places at once, then countless lives could be saved. This is one of the most promising applications in the emerging field of telepresence robotics
and RP-VITA (Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant) - a joint development by the robotics firm iRobot and telemedicine company InTouch Health - is aiming to bring this closer to reality.
are definitely a neat idea – they allow users not only to interact with people in remote locations, but they also (in some cases) let those users wander around those locations from “within” the robot, its camera and microphone acting as their eyes and ears. While such robots have so far been relatively expensive, California-based inventor Claire Delaunay wants to change that. She hopes to sell her tiny Botiful telepresence robot for just US$299.
The MH-2 is a telepresence robot like no other we have seen, and believe us, we’ve seen our share of weird robots
. This tiny humanoid figure is always there for you, perching on your shoulder, ready to be remotely inhabited by your friends. Conceived by the researchers at Yamagata University in Japan, MH-2 is designed to imitate human behavior accurately enough for you to feel like your friend is actually there with you.
History is full of famous handshakes that symbolize a permanent change in the status quo. The 1945 Roosevelt-Churchill-Stalin triple handshake. The 1961 Kennedy-Khrushchev handshake. The 1972 Nixon-Mao handshake. The 1993 Rabin-Arafat handshake. The 2012 Burbank-R2 handshake? This historic clasping took place on February 15, 2012, when NASA's Robonaut 2
(nicknamed R2) humanoid robot greeted Commander Dan Burbank aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in the first "man-machine" handshake in space.
When you think about it, telepresence robots are quite a neat idea. Not only do they allow you to see and converse with people in another location through video conferencing, but you can also move them about within that location – almost as if you were there in person, walking down the halls. Such devices typically don’t come cheap, however. As with other robots, part of what you’re paying for are their computerized “brains,” along with all of their input/output peripherals. The Oculus Telepresence Robot, however, takes a different approach. It utilizes a user-supplied netbook to serve as its brains, eyes, ears and vocal cords. This results in a lower price, potentially opening up telepresence technology to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
Engineered Arts Ltd.'s Robothespian is probably one of the first professional robotic actors who made it into the real world (sorry, T-1000). Its elegant movements, extraordinary body language and emotion-conveying skills make it a great communicator. It may not be capable of helping the elderly
, it's not nearly as agile and athletic as Boston Dynamics' PETMAN
, and it's unlikely to be of any use during eye surgery
. But that's OK. Robothespian is an artist. A robot burdened with the task of exploring the ephemeral territory of the arts and claiming it for his robotic brethren. And it seems it is extremely well equipped to get the job done.
Developing true robot surrogates that allow you to be in two places at once means duplicating all of our movements and senses in machine form. Given you can now make a video call on your phone, it's fair to say we have the sight and sound aspects pretty well covered, but the challenge of adding touch to the equation is formidable. The TELESAR V Robot Avatar shows just how far we've come in turning into telepresence into telexistence - it's a humanoid remotely controlled robot that boasts a wide range of movement along with the ability to transmit sight, hearing and
touch sensations to its operator via a set of sensors and 3D head mounted display.