Ava 500 The Videoconferencing Robot
2 July 2013 Leave a comment
Written by Mel Case
iRobot was founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists with the vision of making practical robots a reality. Since then they have produced robots that vacuum and wash floors, clean gutters and pools and patrol war zones. At InfoComm which was held in Orlando, Florida last month iRobot announced they were partnering with Cisco (videoconference and telepresence solutions company) to bring an enterprise grade iRobot Ava 500 video collaboration robot to market. iRobot blended their self navigating robot with Cisco’s high definition TelePresence technology (EX60) and wireless access points to allow offsite workers to participate in meetings where movement and the ability to change locations quickly was simple.
Ava 500 gives new meaning to the term mobile videoconferencing. It’s no longer a case of mobile describing where you can take your equipment but where your equipment can take you!!
Navigation is controlled with an advanced suite of sensors consisting of laser, sonar, 2D and 3D imaging, cliff sensors and contact bumpers. Ava can move in any direction just like a human and safely transport herself to a meeting (having already mapped out the floor plan of the building). She can adjust her height to accomodate who she’s meeting with (seated or standing) and can moderate her speed and alter her path if she senses humans in the environment (to get to the meeting on time). She automatically returns to her charging station after the meeting is over.
Ava comes with a dedicated iPad which is used to schedule and control her attendance at meetings. You can select Ava’s meeting destination by tapping a location on a map or choosing a room or employee name. At the scheduled time Ava is activated to take you where you want to go. You can elect to travel from the charging station to the selected location in either private mode (screen appears blank) or in public mode (screen shows video of you – see above). If public mode is chosen you can see and be seen by others and can even stop to have a conversation with a colleague on the way.
Ava is targeted for availability in early 2014. Enterprises can lease an Ava 500 for around $2,500 (USD) a month or purchase their very own Ava 500 for around $70, 000 (USD).
Press play below to learn more about Ava 500 and see her in action.
If you are interested in learning more read the solution overview (2 pages with photos) or the Wainhouse Research Whitepaper on video collaboration robots (8 pages).