Up Close With the Telepresence Robot From Anybots


Can’t make it to a meeting thousands of miles away, but wish you could?  Need to be two places at once?  Perhaps you need the telepresence robot from Anybots.  This weekend while attending Singularity University’s second Curriculum Planning Meeting (CPM2) we had the pleasure of bumping into QA, the telepresence robot from Anybots.  Below is our short review of the robot, followed by an exclusive Singularity Hub video interview of Anybots engineer Benjie Nelson showing off the robot.

This slick looking robot navigates a room, continuously streaming video and audio feeds of what it sees to one or more remote viewers.  Not only does the robot allow remote individuals to see what is going on, but it also allows remote individuals to interact with the remote location by sending information, such as audio, images, and pdf files.

If just one person is remotely participating in an event they can view the video/audio feed using anybot’s custom software.  If hundreds or even thousands of people want to see what is going on, the feed can be sent to justin.tv where anyone with the proper credentials can hop on for the ride.  For the Singularity University CPM2 there were several people using justin.tv to view the meeting remotely.

An individual can remotely control the robot with a piece of Anybots’ custom software program.  Not sure that you could remotely control a robot without accidentally bumping into random objects or even people?  No worries: the telepresense robot from Anybots comes with automatic collision detection algorithms, allowing the robot to proactively navigate away from anything you may be steering it into.  In our interview with the robot, a person controlling the robot tried to steer the robot right into us, but the robot automatically corrected its path and went around us.

Afraid that that the robot might fall over while you are operating it?  Have no fear: the robot is very hard to knock over.  In our encounter with the robot we were able to shake it and push it all we wanted and the robot remained standing with no problem.

In addition to the telepresence robot, Anybots has two other robots in the pipeline, named Dexter and Monty.

“Dexter (5’10” tall, 135 pounds) balances dynamically on two legs, walks, jumps, and will be able to run. Monty (5’7″ tall, 160 pounds) has one fully articulated hand (driven by 18 motors) and one gripper, and balances on two wheels.”

Many will be shocked to learn that Anybots has produced all of its work so far with just four engineers!  This is certainly a testament to the quality of the engineers at Anybots, but more importantly it is a sign of how far the robotics industry has come.  Need to build a complex robot but don’t have the money or the expertise to build a factory?  No problem, just send the specs off to a third party manufacturer.  Need advanced motors and sensors to build a state of the art robot?  No problem, simply choose from a growing list of off the shelf parts that are plug and play.

Anybots’ ability to create a first class robot with only a handful of engineers is a recent development that is not to be taken lightly.  The robotics industry has reached the “hockey stick” portion of its growth curve.  The next ten years and beyond promise to unleash an army of amazing robots with a vast array of shapes, sizes, and abilities.  Singularity Hub will be here to show you them.

Singularity Hub chronicles technological progress by highlighting the breakthroughs and issues shaping the future as well as supporting a global community of smart, passionate, action-oriented people who want to change the world.

Follow Singularity: