Anybot, AVA, VGo and Luna: Telepresence Robots are On the Go
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Can’t make that meeting on the other coast? Don’t feel like going into the office today? Send one of the new breed of personal and corporate robots – a telepresence robot – instead. Meet Anybot, AVA, Luna and VGo – described by some as remote-control avatars, these telepresence robots can assist you – or even be you – in many work and other settings. From sitting in on a meeting for you (teleconferencing you in with audio and video) to following you around on medical rounds, there is a telepresence robot for you (if you can afford the price tag). While Anybots (full name “Anybots QB”, and “QB” for short) have gotten the lion’s share of press lately, Luna and VGo are actually more affordable (AVA is still in prototype).

Explains Bob Christopher of Anybots, “The QB is an extension of you. It removes the barriers between people and work so people can teleport themselves to the office space.”


Sounds all George Jetson-y and space age-y, doesn’t it? But it’s really much simpler than that. The Anybot – which looks mostly like a pair of binoculars with a Roomba (no relation) on its head, with the bottom half of a Segway for its, well, bottom half, has on board both audio in and out, and video in and out – you can really think of it as a suped-up webcam on wheels. Now instead of attending that teleconference over Skype, GoToMeeting.com, or another web conferencing platform, you can send your Anybot to attend as your stand-in, with you receiving and manning the audio and video feeds.

You ‘drive’ Anybot QB remotely through your web brower, and can talk to those who are in the room with your Anybot, where they will hear your real voice.

vgo-telepresence-robot

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VGo (pictured left) is a similar telepresence robot, developed by VGo Communications. VGo is also available now, and for a third of the price of an Anybot. Most recently VGo made the news when a VGo unit was sent to high school to stand in for its 14-year-old owner, who has allergies so severe that showing up at school in person could, it is said, kill her.

Explained high school freshman Lauren Robinson, “I’m really sad that I had to miss my freshman year, but I’m very happy that I’m able to go to school through this {the VGo} because it feels like I’m having the same experiences they are going to high school.”

The high school paid for the VGo to allow Robinson to attend.

 

Luna, another entry in the telepresence robot market, appears to be up and running, however information on Luna – whose price point is said to be $3,000, and whose entry into the market was due by the end of the year – is very limited at this time.

Finally, AVA, who is related to the Roomba, is being developed by iRobot, of Roomba fame. While not yet available for general sale, an AVA prototype has been in use at Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital. Perhaps AVA’s most unique aspect is that AVA is powered by – and makes full use of – an iPad. Another way to think of AVA is as an iPad dock that turns the iPad into a wheeled device with many new features.

Explained iRobot CEO Colin Angle, “We see this as a marriage of two technologies, mobile computing and robotics.”

Angle says that medical-assisting uses is one of AVA’s primary focuses.

As mentioned above, Anybots are available for sale now, for $15,000. You can get more information at [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead].

VGo telepresence robots are also available now, for $5,000. For more information contact VGoCom.com.

And, as we mentioned, Luna is said to be available ‘soon’, with a $3,000 pricetag. For more information contact Robodynamics.com.

Finally, if you are interested in keeping tabs on AVA, you can do so at [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead].

And now, here are some videos of Anybot and VGo in action:

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