Travel robot stays behind while you fly, takes care of business

At the same time an important client was due to arrive at his office, Trevor Blackwell was stuck at an airport in Canada with an expired passport. That led Blackwell and his team to build a research robot that could be used remotely to interact with a client. They’ve continued to experiment with robotic telepresence for the past two and a half years and began shipping the robots in April.

“I really wanted to greet him and be part of the meeting in a bigger way than I could be on speakerphone,” Blackwell tells Entreprenur.

The answer, described as “Skype on a Segway only more geeked-out” was Blackwell’s “personal avatar”. The $15,000, 35-pound, two-wheeled, self-balancing travel robot has two-way audio and video so users can interact remotely with co-workers or customers.

Called “QB” (because the first model was QA), the personal avatar has a microphone, speakers, a 5-megapixel camera and a GPS-size video screen on its head, which is attached to its mobile bottom with an adjustable pole. QB connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi.All users need is a web browser to log in to the bot on and they’re able to control the robot’s movements with the arrow buttons on the keyboard. Thanks to the simplicity of the system, QB can be used from anywhere, even a laptop at an airport.

“Be part of the action at work from home or anywhere” says Anybots on its website. “All you need is a web browser to interact with the whole office, lab, factory, or warehouse. QB glides around smoothly and quietly, giving you total access and presence.”

Test drives are available Monday through Friday from 5 AM to 6 PM Pacific.

Flickr photo by peyri