bots IN BRIEF
COFFEE, TEA, OR QB?
Do you need a receptionist at your company? Are you having trouble
affording another employee? Do you like spending time with robots more
than humans? If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, you
might want to check out a brand new service being offered by Anybots that
will solve all your problems.
Anybots' QB telepresence robot is famous for ordering scones,
gambling in Vegas, taking repeated punches to the face, and hosting certain
robotics blog editors. QB has a self-balancing mobile base with a bunch of
sophisticated mobile videoconferencing hardware on top. Using a computer
with an Internet connection, you can take control of a QB robot anywhere
in the world, driving it around, seeing through its eyes, and interacting with
people just like you were there yourself. Well, almost. That's the idea, anyway.
Now, Anybots is offering an entirely new service called AnyLobby that
leverages the telepresence capabilities of QB to offer full-time telepresence
staff to companies who might not otherwise be able to afford a real live
human. Here's how it works: For about $2,400 a month,Anybots will send
you a QB robot, then a professional human will log in to the robot and be available as a receptionist or an assistant for 40
hours a week. The human on the other end can be physically located anywhere with good Internet, and for locations with only
intermittent need, one human can control multiple QBs, saving everybody time and money. GetRobo.com recently talked
with one of these human receptionists (via a QB) named Angela:
"We can do a lot of things.” QB doesn't have arms, but thanks to digital technology, she doesn't have any trouble scanning
faxes and/or printing documents. The only thing she can't do is provide her signature when a package arrives, but the
companies she works for have set up protocols for that — "Call Bob when there's a package."
Oftentimes, robots are thought of as something that can take away jobs, but Angela disagrees."That is not the case here. It
is creating jobs for small towns with high unemployment rates."
Anybots is hoping that these "virtual employees" that AnyLobby provides will offer flexible options for small companies
who might not otherwise be able to afford a 100 percent old-fashioned home-grown human being. There's actually lots of
potential here; it could be extended to other experts, as well. Need some on-site tech support? Just find a qualified person
from anywhere in the world and they can have a physical presence right there with you immediately. Telepresence robots won't
be completely replacing humans anytime soon, but if they can offer the advantage of being somewhere in person for a fraction
of the cost and inconvenience, they might make a viable alternative in plenty of useful situations.
BIN THERE, DONE THAT
Jerome Mack ran a company that made robotic tools. In
1998, his best friend died in a grain bin accident and so he
formed Mack Robots to make bots that could do this type of
work. Last year, the $15,000-$17,000 Bin Bots began selling
and were featured at a recent Minnesota Grain and Feed
Association convention and trade show. The service bot
measures 6 x 2 feet, weighs 800 lbs, and can fit through a
grain bin door. It is also strong enough to lift heavy buckets. It
can be operated by a worker from outside with an optional
video camera and lights. Some highlighted features include:
• Remote control operation from outside the bin.
• Small enough to fit into any bin.
• Can push, pull, or lift a sweep and knock down a wall
• Dust-proof, heavy-duty metal body.
• Battery operated with 12 hours of charge life.
• Optional camera and lighting attachments.
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