In some ways the future is already here. The iRobot just launched AvaTM 500 Video Collaboration Robot with Cisco TelePresence.
The robot blends together iRobot’s autonomous navigation with Cisco’s TelePresence to enable people working off-site to participate in meetings and presentations where movement and location spontaneity are important. The new robot is also designed to enable mobile visual access to manufacturing facilities, laboratories, customer experience centers and other remote facilities in a supply chain.
How it works
The remote user schedules and controls Ava 500 using a familiar iPad® interface, selecting his or her destination by tapping a location on a map or by choosing a room or employee name. An available robot is then activated to “take” the user where they want to go. The user can choose whether to make the trip from the charging station to selected location in either “private” mode—where the screen appears blank—or in “public” mode—where the user’s face is displayed. If public mode is chosen, the user can see and be seen, and even stop to have an ad-hoc hallway conversation with a colleague. When the session is complete, the Ava 500 automatically returns to its charging station.
- Autonomous navigation. Ava 500 employs “autonomous navigation,” which means there is no need to “drive” the robot, so it requires little training to operate and the user is free to concentrate on the task at hand. iRobot’s mobile robotics platform maps its own environment so it can intelligently and safely self- navigate busy, real-world enterprise environments like offices, manufacturing floors and laboratories without bumping into people or objects.
- Interoperability and enterprise-grade security. Ava 500 uses both the Cisco TelePresence EX60 personal unit and Cisco Aironet 1600 Series wireless access points to enable enterprise-grade security and interoperability in any standards-based video collaboration environment.
It seems really interesting to have one robot like this. I could not find any info about the price but I am guessing that is a “toy” for top executive and only profitable companies can afford one.