Saturday, February 7, 2009

Is QA Your Next Telepresence Robot?

With the downfall of iRobot's ConnectR you may think that telepresence robots will face the same fate. The folks from Anybot, creators of Monty, think otherwise and have created QA. QA, which stands for Questions & Answers, is a full size semi-humanoid telepresence robot. QA was showcased at CES 2009 this past month to illustrate on how it can operate simply, cleanly and quietly while providing a full physical presence anywhere in the world. This robot will allow you to see and be seen at the office, shop or home, talk and listen, as well collaborate in ways that makes all other methods obsolete.

Anybot's QA comes with the following specs:
  • Batteries: rechargeable Li ion, 4-6 hours of operation
  • Connectivity: 802.11g wireless (optional 3G cellular)
  • Cameras: two 5 MP color, with IR illuminator
  • Video: 20 FPS @ 640×480 (depending on network)
  • Audio: full duplex, high fidelity
  • Display: 7 inch (18 cm) color LCD in chest
  • Laser pointer: green 10 mW, points and draws shapes
  • Navigation: LIDAR, 5.5 yard (5 meter) range
  • Speed: up to 6 MPH (10 km/h)
  • Wheels: two 12 inch (30 cm) diameter rubber
  • Height: 5 foot (152 cm) standing, 2 foot (61 cm) bending
  • Weight: 30 pounds (14 kg)
  • Client software: PC and Mac compatible

Is a humanoid telepresence robot needed? I say yes, it makes it easier to interact with at the office, work shop and even at home! Do you really think that your co-workers will take you seriously while talking to a ConnectR, Rovio or Spykee type robot on the floor? They may easily just kick it out the door! Anybot's QA robot is moving towards the right road of making telepresence robots. What is now needed is some intelligence for it to be used for other tasks (security, assistant, information access and data hub, etc.) when the robot is not used for telepresence and the price to be reachable for most homes and small businesses.