Telepresence robots haven’t quite reached the point yet where they’re rivalling Skype for how people do remote meetings, but they’re certainly a more fun and engaging way to meet distant people.
Now Double Robotics, one of the best known names in the field, has unveiled the Double 2, an updated robot with bumped-up specs. As before, you attach an iPad to the ‘head,’ and then invite people to call in via a Web app and control the robot remotely.
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The Double 2 has a patent-pending feature called ‘Lateral Stability Control’ that helps the robot traverse uneven surfaces while staying upright. This is something all telepresence robots could benefit from. At a recent tech conference, I saw one repeatedly have to rely on the kindness of strangers to nudge it over a cable on the floor that kept stopping it dead.
The Double 2 has received a speed boost over the original. The previous model could reach 0.9 miles per hour but now the top speed is 1.6 mph. That may not sound fast, but it’s zippy enough in a small room.
I recently tried a Double 2 at Double Robotics’ California HQ (remotely, from my home in the UK of course) and found that 1.6 mph feels really fast, especially if you’re on a glitchy connection and can’t quite tell when to stop. Luckily, you don’t have to use the Double 2 at top speed unless you’re happy that you won’t crash it into a unlucky passer-by.
Finally, if you buy the new model, you have the option of a wide-angle 5-megapixel camera accessory for $249. This not only lets you see more of what’s around you in higher resolution than the standard 1.2-megapixel unit, you get also get a constant view of the floor so you can watch out for obstacles.
The Double 2 is out today for $2,499.
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