Anybots allow you to have virtual assistants that you control yourself at locations where you cannot be physically present.
The California based Anybots, Inc. is renting out the virtual presence robots to busy managers who need to be at two or three different places at the same time.
You can't be everywhere at once, but with this robot taking your place, you can do the next best thing.
The robots are a bit goofy looking - with cartoon-like heads perched on elongating poles riding on a Segway-like mobility device. But they are simple to use and as easy to master as a young child's video game.
Anyone can visit the website and test drive the robot online to see how easy it is to manage it. The model you control from the website is called the QB. When you first log on, the QB is resting on a retractable peg. You start by commanding the robot to stand up, and then you can guide its movement. By manipulating arrow keys, you can make the QB go in the direction you want. You can see what the QB sees, and if it encounters people, you can speak to them through the robot. It is just like communicating with a friend through a webcam. Using the QB robot actually makes you feel that you are at its location in person.
The QB robot's user friendliness may be the key to future commercial success. But that is just one of its great selling points. The QB offers a number of distinct advantages over its robotic competitors in several areas.
With its stretchable neck, the QB can quickly adjust its height from a humble 2' 6” to an impressive 6” 2' in a matter of seconds. It can also adjust its own balance and its camera's angle as it moves about on its Segway-like platform, allowing for a more natural experience when you are driving the robot.
The QB is also lightweight enough - at 35 lbs - for someone to lift or even carry up a flight a stairs.
The robot is still very expensive. You need around $15,000 to purchase a single QB model. They are also available for rent at $600 a month. But Anyrobots Inc. expects the market in telepresence robotics to grow in a few years, or perhaps sooner. Anybots, Inc. has already started fielding orders for their virtual assistant robots from companies in the USA, Mexico, and Asia.