Suitable Technologies just announced their new Beam+ remote presence robot and is offering the first 1,000 units at a price of $995 (thereafter it will be $1,995). First shipments are scheduled for Summer, 2014.
On June 17, 2013, Astronaut Chris Cassidy successfully drove a K10 rover on earth, via remote connection from the Surface Telerobotics Workbench on the International Space Station, showing that robots deployed to explore Mars or the far side of the moon could be remotely controlled by astronauts in space during future deep-space missions. Telerobotics, which involves human operators remotely controlling robotic arms, rovers and other devices in space, is one means of reducing risk in dull, dangerous or dirty tasks as humans explore space.
NASA has a long history of playing for high stakes; think of the 7 minutes of terror Curiosity descent to Mars, Spirit & Opportunity, and indeed, the entire space race. Yet when human lives and millions of dollars in technology are invested, it’s critical to keep risk at a minimum. As part of our series on ‘High-Risk / High-Reward’ robotics, we asked Dr. Terry Fong of the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group, to describe how NASA’s telerobotics initiatives help mitigate risk in space missions. – Robohub Editors
Telepresence robots are remote controlled cameras on wheels that are connected via Wi-Fi to a user’s computer, mobile phone or tablet. The user can communicate via a “human-scale” robot with other people and move around a workplace or home.
Based on the following press release, iRobot, a leader in delivering robotic solutions, announced that the RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot has received 510(k) clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in hospitals. RP-VITA is the first autonomous navigation remote presence robot to receive FDA clearance.
The annual CES - Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, is always a great opportunity for trendspotting and innovation hunting in consumer electronics including consumer robotics. CES 2013 will be held January 8-11 and some of the hot topics discussed this year will be mobility and connectivity, the new mantra of consumer electronics, the state of tech retailing in 2013 including show rooming, battling for online supremacy, OEMs going direct, private label. Other topics are cloud computing and the implications for consumer tech and the future of auto technology.
|Credit: Suitable Technologies, Beam|
Telepresence robots have been identified as a promising consumer application for many years and there is a growing number of start-up companies developing new mobile platforms for video conferencing, tele-traveling and remote control.
It was announced today that Grishin Robotics was investing $250,000 into Y Combinator startup Double Robotics. Double Robotics have already sold out their first order of affordable telepresence robots and look poised to meet the increased demand in high tech low cost consumer robotics with this investment (see previous post “Double Robotics – Crossing the Chasm?“).
Double Robotics, the Ycombinator company behind ‘wheels for the ipad’ is a fantastic showcase of the new breed of affordable consumer robotics. But can they cross the chasm? These guys know how to create a beautiful accessible easy to use robot. And so far, also how to market it.
In a joint press release, US companies InTouch Health and iRobot have announced a new telepresence robot for hospitals. The robot called “RP-VITA” builds on iRobot’s AVA platform introduced at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Similar to the AVA, the RP-VITA uses a tablet as the user interface and has autonomous mapping and navigation capabilities. The RP-VITA can also connect with diagnostic devices, such as otoscopes and ultrasound, and comes equipped with the latest electronic stethoscope. The robot is currently pending clearance by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), with results expected in the last quarter of 2012.
In today’s show we’ll have a look at the next killer application in robotics, telepresence. The idea is simple, instead of planning a bothersome phone or video conference meeting with all your colleagues, you communicate through a telepresence robot that can move around your workplace while you stay at home. Our first guest, Jean-Christophe Baillie, is the CEO of Gostai which just commercialized the Jazz robots this year. Our second guest, Trevor Blackwell, presents his company’s Anybots.
|Jean-Christophe Baillie received a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from University of Paris 6 and the Sony Computer Science Lab and then founded the Cognitive Robotics Lab in ENSTA/ParisTech. He is now the CEO of Gostai, father of the URBI software platform which was the subject of a previous episode.
Today he tells us about his company’s move to hardware. Building on their knowhow in robot software, and after two years of working in the dark, they just released their Jazz telepresence series. The series includes the “Jazz Connect” robot for mobile telepresence, the “Jazz Icon” for entertainment & events and the “Jazz Security” for surveillance. The head can be embedded with an LCD screen or two round LED eyes.
Finally, Baillie tells us about his hopes for telepresence, what the market looks like, the importance of design when making personal avatars and his ideas for the future.
|Trevor Blackwell is the founder and CEO of Anybots Inc., a Silicon Valley startup developing telepresence robots. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard and then became a principal at Viaweb specialized in e-commerce software, later acquired by Yahoo. He’s also the inventor of all sorts of vehicles that balance in a way similar to the Segway, including a two-wheeled balancing scooter and the self-balancing Eunicycle which only has one wheel.
Blackwell presents his Anybots, two wheeled balancing telepresence robots that have been seen in local cafes ordering scones. He addresses questions regarding WiFi dependency, design, and tells us how these robots are typically being used in the work place. Finally, he mentions the future where telepresence robots well be able to do more than just communicate.