Thursday, August 26, 2010
Remote-Control Robots Enter the Workforce
Link to August 26 San Jose Mercury News article.
Excerpt: Anybots' QB is just one of a group of new remote-controlled robots now hitting the market. Employing communications technologies similar to Skype and robotic technologies akin to those found in robots used to explore Mars or help defuse bombs in Iraq, the new bots cost far less than their predecessors and are designed for more ordinary uses.
Blackwell, who founded Anybots nine years ago after leaving Yahoo, says the $15,000 QB can inspect warehouses or factories remotely or provide tech support. Security firms are also likely to be interested, said Jackie Fenn, an analyst who covers emerging trends at Gartner, a technology research firm. If security guards see something suspicious on a video camera, they could send in a robot to get a closer view, rather than having to go out and inspect it themselves.
Anybots' competitors include VGO, a New Hampshire company that is developing a two-wheeled robot similar to QB that has a video screen instead of a "head." Santa Monica-based RoboDynamics, meanwhile, has for two years been selling a robot called TiLR that has a much more industrial look but is similarly being targeted for use by remote employees and costs just $10,000. And Santa Barbara-based InTouch Health is building robots for use in hospitals and other health care settings by remotely located physicians.