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iRobot's AVA is an App-Ready Robot

January 7, 2011 | Chris Payatagool
irobot_ava.jpgBy Lance Ulanoff via PC Mag

LAS VEGAS--Imagine your iPad. Imagine it on a robot. Now imagine that robot is a 5-foot-tall, self-navigating bot that can use the interface and app capability of your favorite portable device to create a new kind of telepresesence automaton. Roomba manufacturer iRobot has gone beyond imagining to developing a working prototype called AVA, perhaps the first practical mobility platform.

Unveiled here at CES 2011, AVA combines your Apple iPad (or any Android device) with a mobile robot that uses multiple sensors for 3D-location awareness and to build a map of, perhaps, your entire home. In addition to sonar and laser sensors, AVA uses two PrimeSense sensors--yes the same ones found in Kinect for Xbox 360-- to build a three-dimensional map of its environment. That map can appear on AVA's attached iPad screen or on a network connected PC. In either instance, you simply touch on the map where you want AVA to go and the robot will go there. It knows the map and its current location and can "see" the environment around it.

iRobot Co-Founder and CEO Colin Angle said the addition of mobile devices like the iPad and Android-based tablets allows anyone to build "a kick-ass mobility platform." "If you think of the thousands of apps out there: Which iPad apps would be more cool if they moved? The alarm clock? You appointments? Gaming?" said Angle.

Angle explained that the inclusion of these mobile devices means that anyone who can program an iPad or Android app can now program a robot. Some more obvious uses include meeting telepresence, home and office security, material handling and grabbing you a beer from your refrigerator and bringing it back to you.


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