Robotic telepresence workers

The use of videoconferencing to enable remote workers to communicate with colleagues from home has been around for a while, but now the technology has grown a pair of wheels.


The use of videoconferencing to enable remote workers to communicate with colleagues from home has been around for a while, but now the technology has grown a pair of wheels.

The use of videoconferencing to enable remote workers to communicate with colleagues from home has been around for a while, but now the technology has grown a pair of wheels.

IT company Anybots is just about to launch its telepresence robot ‘QB’, which resembles a more primitive version of the Pixar character Wall-E (or a jumped-up vacuum cleaner) and will be on the market for £10,500 from this autumn.

QB has a video camera and screen in its ‘head’ along with a speaker and microphone. The worker operates the robot from home with four arrow keys to make it turn or go forward and back. There’s also a guidance system enabling it to steer clear of furniture and people, while all the time you’re seeing real-time video from the robot’s head.

The technology, which has been in development for some time, is designed to save companies money in travel and teleconferencing equipment, and encourage more interaction between office-based staff and remote workers. Other organisations behind its development include Willow Garage, which is in talks with one of its multinational customers to buy 100 telepresence robots, and InTouch Health, which has developed a ‘doctor robot’ that can roll into a room and examine a patient.

But it’s not just remote workers who will benefit from having a physical presence represent them at work. Rather terrifyingly for staff, it also means CEOs with more than one building can jump into a stationed robot and enter any of their offices with just one click of the mouse.

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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