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The Robot Assistant of Your Dreams Becomes Reality

September 18, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Jed Brack / PSFK

Telepresence robot allows user to interact, rather than just passively participate, thanks to extendable limbs

A traffic accident that left him bedridden inspired inventor Diego Balarezo of Robitz, Inc. to build a robot assistant. "My life changed radically," Balarezo says. "My body stopped working in many ways, but not my brain. So I tried to find an alternative for my situation." Eventually he recovered, but the idea remained, and after fifteen years of work, the result is Yori Black, a robot that is both companion and telepresence assistant.

Most telepresence systems are either passive cameras or video conference arrangements. The user may see through the camera or even talk to people at the other end of the link. Yori adds mobility and manipulators-extendable arms and hands-that let the user interact with the world from a distance. Around the home, for example, Yori can be used to fetch things, pick things up, or help clean, a boon for those whose mobility issues prevent them from doing such tasks. It's a "service machine with arms," says Balarezo.

Alternately, the robot can be controlled by specialists such as medical advisors, adult caregivers, or nannies to provide services remotely. These contractors would be hired through Robitz to become an extra pair of hands. Yori also can function autonomously, becoming a pet, entertainment platform, or companion. With apps and programs downloaded from the Yori Cloud, the robot can learn to do new things from the experiences of other Yori users.

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