Telepresence robots may be some of the most exciting affordable products to purchase and to possibly design as well if you are an aspiring robot maker.
To see one you can imagine a camera or an ipad computer on a segway…or you can imagine a camera on a 4 foot long pole attached to a moving robot vacuum cleaner.
Basically a telepresence robot allows you to be in one location controlling your camera telepresence robot located somewhere else like in an office, a school or perhaps a tourism spot.
They first made news in the media perhaps 10 years ago as a tourism idea where you could sit in your house while a camera mounted telepresence robot could roll around the hot tourist spots in a place like downtown Waikiki beach.
They are now being marketed as the ideal solution for schools where there may be children who are not well enough to attend class, so they are able to have a telepresence robot in the classroom near the other in person students.
The at home child can be a part of the classroom learning experience and can hear and see what the other children are saying and the at home student can even control his or her robot out of the class when the class is over and roll down the hallway for lunch with the other children.
The idea is amazing and there will certainly be ups and downs to the idea as some children may not relate well to having a rolling robot following them around to the lunch room.
The other application for these robots is in the business office and in hospitals.
A visitor can check out what an office looks like or a factory plant before they purhcase it perhaps by first logging in the control software from their city and then moving the physical robot with cameras around the facility.
There are a growing number of companies selling these telepresence robots now and one of them, Doublerobotics.com seems to be making great progress with their different designs and markets.
They created several different types of telepresence robots which have different ways to control them.
The most affordable robotthat they offer is of a simpler design and has the robot able to follow a path that someone had previously laid out in an office building or a factory environment.
The customer would be at their computer and would move their mouse over to certain spots that they could see on the floor and the robot would then use its sensors to see these spots on the ground and then it would go to that spot with the camera aimed at whatever is there.
The most expensive option would be an autonomous telepresence robot which would move around the room by itself hilighting certain things that are important in the room and avoiding all obstacles using the onboard sensors that it has.
In a hospital environment, a doctor or nurse could have on of these robots or several going from room to room on a ward and interacting with each patient and bringing food or medication or simply allow the doctor to be at home and be able to see the patient and ask them any questions that may arise from what is seen on the computer camera.
Most of these basic telepresence robots sell for around $5,000 with the price going up depending on how many sensors it has and how much intelligence is built in.