AI News, Interview: iRobot's Colin Angle on Robotics Industry, Remote Presence Robots

Interview: iRobot's Colin Angle on Robotics Industry, Remote Presence Robots

At the InnoRobo conference in Lyon, France, last month, I got a chance to speak with Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot -- in a very candid interview about his view on the robotics industry, his vision for AVA, a new robot platform his company is developing, and how he sees things shaping up in the coming years.

Cool over function In keeping with a presentation Colin gave earlier in the day, he started off our conversation with a discussion on how there have been hundreds of millions of dollars spent on making cool demos – but relatively little in the way of solving high value business needs.

Handling drops of up to 6 meters [20 feet], it's able to carry payloads of over 90 kilograms [200 pounds] and navigate rough terrain to go where human-sized systems should go -- in other words, the Warrior shows you don't need bipedal systems to solves a high-value mobility problem.

While a person could learn the environment over time (e.g., where the offices are, where the conference rooms are), wouldn't it be better to have the remote presence system know the entire layout and allow you to request the place to go and simply take you there?

Cisco telepresence solutions are not effective in other cases simply due to the very nature of the systems themselves -- limited in freedom, tied down to a single location, and very limited in being able to represent you outside of the magic screen.

How AVA fits in Colin was amused that people thought the AVA was iRobot's effort into robotic telepresence -- he sees the AVA as a 'generic platform' for supporting all of the robotic functions that are necessary for enabling remote presence that iRobot is known for (“Do what iRobot is great at”).

I could see the vision Colin has allows for an augmented reality for the pilot -- being able to have a click-and-response action within the view of the remote presence system (e.g, open doors, tag people in a meeting, set vision points to track where people are and respond to them rapidly by turning the head).

Press Releases

(NASDAQ: IRBT), a leader in delivering robotic technology-based solutions, today announced that the company's Ava 500 video collaboration robot is ready for delivery in the U.S., Canada and select European markets through select certified Cisco resellers.

The easy-to-use, self-driven robot allows people to use video to see and be seen while collaborating in environments that would otherwise be difficult or impossible from afar, including hallways and manufacturing floors.

With the benefits of telepresence, Ava 500 helps globally dispersed teams work more closely together without the need for costly and time-consuming travel, enabling increased collaboration between executives, managers and employees.

'Since announcing a joint marketing agreement and alliance with Cisco to bring Ava 500 to market in June, iRobot has completed a beta program and field trials at various sites, including Fortune 500 companies,' said Youssef Saleh, senior vice president and general manager of iRobot's Remote Presence business unit.

'We are pleased to see iRobot achieve this important milestone,' said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group. 'For truly amazing things to happen, video needs to be available everywhere—on every pane of glass, in every meeting space, and in all the spaces in between.

Having experienced a physical presence in the meeting and the advantage of 'walking around' with colleagues at their offices, I believe this technology holds great promise for how business will be conducted on a global scale moving forward.'

The company's home robots help people find smarter ways to clean, its defense & security robots protect those in harm's way, and its remote presence robots enable virtual presence from anywhere in the world.

This press release contains express or implied forward-looking statements relating to, among other things, iRobot Corp.'s expectations concerning product functionality and availability.  These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements.


iRobot inspired the first Micro Rovers used by NASA, changing space travel forever, deployed the first ground robots used by U.S. Forces in conflict, brought the first self-navigating FDA-approved remote presence robots to hospitals and introduced the first practical home robot with Roomba, forging a path for an entirely new category in home cleaning.

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