September 07, 2010
Can't Attend? Just Send Your Robot
John Markoff has an interesting article this week on some of the important uses of robots today. He focuses mostly on telepresence robots, which he says will inevitably grow smarter and more agile, not only representing human users, but will augment them.
He gives a few examples of how robotics are advancing, including healthcare and in the workplace. Neurologist Dr. Shatzel was able to treat a patient a couple hundred miles away, using a computer monitor, a keyboard and a joystick that control his assistant on the scene — a robot on wheels.
Mike Beltzner uses the Texai telepresence robot from Willow Garage to attend meetings at Mozilla in Mountain View, except that he is over 2,000 miles away in Toronto. The robot was surrounded by more than 100 young software engineers, each sitting with a wirelessly connected laptop. Markoff also covers the elderly and aging market.
Vgo’s robots are being used in this area today -- execs envision their robots being used by family members to pay visits and offer help to elderly parents, allowing them to remain independent longer. Willow Garage's PR2 robot is also being used for the elderly and Georgia Tech has been making some progress. They're also working on a number of capabilities for people who have physical disabilities. More on their latest here.
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