iRobot Selling Ava 500 iPad-Controlled Telepresence Robot
The self-driven robot uses 3D cameras, laser, and sonar to create a virtual map of its environment.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Mar 19, 2014

Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot is now selling its Ava 500 telepresence robot in the U.S., Canada and select European markets through select certified Cisco resellers.

Co-developed by Cisco, Ava 500 features a 21.5-inch LCD screen and boasts dual benefits of telepresence (via Cisco’s Telepresence EX60 software) and a physical presence through iRobot’s autonomous robotic base. The self-driven robot uses 3D cameras, laser, and sonar to create a virtual map of its environment.

Users can remotely schedule and control Ava 500 using an iPad, selecting the destination by tapping a location on a map or by choosing a location or employee name. The robot then autonomously navigates its way to the desired location and initiates the call using Cisco TelePresence EX60. When a meeting is over, Ava returns to a charging dock, so it can operate without assistance for a while.

“The biggest elements in favor of telepresence robots are the freedom of movement, spontaneity and physical presence,” says Youssef Saleh, senior vice president and general manager of iRobot’s Remote Presence business unit. “Instead of being a video on the wall or a voice on the phone, you get a real presence in the room.”

Ava 500 intelligently and safely self-navigates busy, real-world enterprise environments without bumping into people or objects. Manual operations to rotate the robot, move the telepresence system up and down and to tilt the camera are provided for more refined control.

"Technologies like Ava 500 offer several advantages to our business in terms of cost savings and productivity," said Dr. Michael Graefenstedt, vice president BU Polyurethanes and Head of Commercial Business Development EMEA/LA at Bayer. "From my office in Germany, I was able to use Ava 500 to manage and collaborate with U.S. colleagues in a way that would have necessitated expensive travel otherwise. 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."

iRobot expects Ava 500 to be leased for around $2,500 per month or cost $69,500 when purchased outright.

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