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Michael Savoie


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Michael is the founder and Chief Robot Wizard at Frostbyte Technologies, a start-up aimed at developing autonomous outdoor mobile robots. He also writes for TelepresenceRobots.Com, because due to all his interests he is constantly trying to be in multiple places at any given time. He studied Mechanical Engineering and Robotics at the University of Denver, where he originally found his attraction towards robotics. During his undergraduate studies he founded FIRST team #443 and is currently the Control Systems Advisor for the Colorado FIRST Robotics Competition Regional. Michael also has experience in industrial automation from PLC to VFD. When not working on robots, Michael gets lost (on purpose) in the mountains of Colorado.



In our final post for this series, we’ll talk about the future of telepresence. For most robots telepresence is just the beginning, a means to an end. Many of the robots in this series are meant for office, medical, or home. Allowing human operators to teach robots through telepresence creates a synergy along with higher levels of autonomy.

by   -   January 26, 2016
Courtesy of Fellow Robots, Inc.
Courtesy of Fellow Robots, Inc.

In our previous post we looked at socially engaging robots and how they are helping to break down barriers to remote presence. Another area on the fringe of telepresence is service robots. These robots operate autonomously, but have the ability to be controlled in telepresence mode when the need arises. The symbiosis between robot and machine allows these robots to take care of easier things, while allowing humans to take over when it needs help. As autonomy improves, the bar moves higher and higher.

by   -   December 29, 2015

The primary aim of these telepresence robots is to become more socially engaging and promote non-verbal communication. While many of us are used to the telephone, meeting face to face is a much more enriching experience, particularly when it comes to building relationships. Telepresence lowers this barrier with visual communication, but these robots aim to lower it even further.

by   -   December 15, 2015

A number of telepresence toys came onto the market between 2011 and 2013 and crashed a few years later. While most of the products in this category marketed themselves as toys first, and telepresence second, they all provided interactive play and telepresence for exploration. Most of these companies are now pivoting away from telepresence, but there are still a few on the scene.

by   -   December 8, 2015

Design-Studio_Robotic-Telepresence_Kubi

Tabletop telepresence devices began to pop up on the market about two years ago. Though its a small slice of the telepresence market, it’s differentiated enough from other categories to be mentioned in a separate post. Many telepresence users simply want the ability to pan and tilt around a room. While this solution doesn’t work well for places like museums, it’s perfect for classrooms, meetings, or get togethers where you don’t need much mobility.

by   -   December 3, 2015
Modern_Family_TV_Telepresence_Double_Robotics
Double makes an entrance on hit TV series Modern Family.

Personal telepresence robots have exploded onto the market thanks to the help of tablets, smartphones, and crowdfunding sites. Geared toward the economics of personal use, these robots typically cost less than $3000 (tablet typically not included) and don’t require a monthly subscription. While the telemedicine category of telepresence devices has been plagued by lawsuits, the only drama in this category is the love (or hate) of your smart device.

by   -   November 20, 2015
Credit: iRobot
Credit: iRobot

Telemedicine is a rapidly growing field and, with the aid of telepresence robots, is quickly gaining traction in hospitals and homes around the world.

by   -   October 21, 2015

Ava-500-11

Business class telepresence is where high tech meets high price. Typically starting at $3,000 USD, often with a monthly service fee, these robots are a lot more than just tablets on a stick.

Telepresence robots have been around since the early 2000s, with a research project called PEBBLES out of Ryerson University in Toronto. When I first started covering this area a little over three years ago, there were only a handful of products available. Since then, the market has exploded, with a slew of robots ranging from the table-top Kubi and the sleek Double to the highly advanced Ava 500. They’ve also been on the move, heading out of the office, attending conferences, and touring museums. In this series I’ll be updating you on telepresence as is stands today, the various market categories, and where the field is headed.

by   -   September 29, 2015
Using a BeamPro, Brianna Lempesis waits in line to buy an iPhone6s from the Apple Store in downtown Palo Alto. Photo: Suitable Technologies.
Using a BeamPro, Brianna Lempesis waits in line to buy an iPhone6s from the Apple Store in downtown Palo Alto. Photo: Suitable Technologies.

Robots are great for doing dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs, and few jobs are more dangerous and downright dull (at times) than waiting in line to buy the latest tech gadget. Last week in Palo Alto, California, and in Sydney, Australia, telepresence devices stood in for their human counterparts to buy the iPhone 6S. 

by   -   July 13, 2015

It wouldn’t be June in Colorado without the Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition.

iPetCompanioniPetCompanion have developed telepresence technology that allows you to manipulate toys so you can play with your pets while you’re away. The team has installed the system in hospitals and animal shelters to connect sick kids to homeless pets in need of interaction. Now they are crowdfunding on Kickstarter to bring a consumer version into people’s homes. 

Kubi_Revolve_RoboticsRevolve Robotics and Swymed have collaborated to create a HIPAA compliant telepresence device called Kubi that can stream medical data. This compliance is a big deal: no longer do MDs have to rely only upon what they see, or think they see, to make a diagnosis; they can use data streaming directly to the app to help make decisions. In smaller rural hospitals or even in ambulances, where a specialist cannot be physically there, this is going to be the best alternative.

When most people think of AI getting out of control, they almost always point to Terminator or HAL. In ‘Transcendance,’ Johnny Depp, plays Dr. Will Caster, whose work in AI creates PINN, (physically independent neural network), the core of which is used to create a transcendent Caster after he dies of radioactive poisoning from a terrorist group.

From a technology standpoint the film’s underlying premise – that robots seeking to repair themselves have a consciousness – is not as simple as it would seem. While there is no universal test for self-awareness, like a Turing or mirror test, the film seems to suggest that if a robot seeks to self-repair or self-mutilate, it shows it has at least some level of consciousness. But I see this as problematic; self-repair is simply a good algorithm.