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Telepresence Robot Platform Takes to the Air

May 13, 2011 | 
One of the greatest challenges faced in the telepresence robotics industry is also one of the oldest: mobility.

Stairs and obstacles still present challenges to many telepresence robots, limiting their functionality in the home and office. But that could soon change with the recent announcement of researchers at the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Tokyo.

Tobita Hiroaki and his colleagues recently unveiled a new telepresence robotics platform that overcomes those obstacles by getting robots off the ground and into the air.


The system uses a blimp-like device filled with helium that serves as the screen for a mounted projector that allows a remote user to project their presence into a room and move around unobstructed by ground-based obstacles or stairs.  Attached speakers create a sense that the speakers voice is coming from the image projected on the blimp.

The device is eerily reminiscent of Big Brother in George Orwell's dystopian classic "1984," however the creation has a much less sinister purpose in real life. The platform could hold great promise for industries such as health care and academia, allowing doctors to literally float from room to room while remaining at home and educators to move about the classroom and observe students' work.

The project is still in the early stages, and researches will soon begin testing the unit on users to gauge their reactions to interacting with a floating, disembodied head. Already, Hiroaki  says that his colleagues have described the experience as "very strange."

Telepresence Options  recently completed a survey of traditional telepresence robotics platform in it's recently launched Telepresence Options Magazine, featuring a number of platforms with more traditional means of movement, including wheels and treads. To get your free copy of Telepresence Options Magazine, click here.

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