The Telepresence Robot for Remote Workers
At present, about 15,000 remote workers in the World are at workplace virtually, using telepresence robots. Below we describe some application scenarios of such robots and technical details.
The idea of telepresence appeared tens or may be thousands years ago, but commercial implementing it gained only after wide spreading of internet, not expensive computers and manufacturing technologies.
By now there are developed more than 30 modifications of such robots, almost all of it is presented at telepresencerobots.com website, but really in demand and actively sold (by telepresencerobots.com, amazon.com, eBay.com and alibaba.com) just a few of them.
It is very difficult to get used to the idea of telepresence, like to all unusual and not widespread in the community. The main part of consumers regard such robots like toy. However, worldwide, it has already sold about 15 thousand such robots, that really help companies in resolving of below mentioned issues and provide a huge economic impact with payback in a few months. In picture below you can see the telepresence robots market grow.
From website https://www.tractica.com
Remote operation using telepresence is the main application of this type of robots. Two scenarios are most demanded by the market:
a) the employee, being at home or on a business trip, participates in the life of the company and works exactly as if he/she was in the office, among colleagues;
b) the head of the company, which has several offices, performs its functions by communicating with the staff or other managers remotely, with the help of a robot.
Application of telepresence robots by remote workers
Remote work can be reasonable used in the following cases:
- when it is impossible to find in your city an employee with the necessary specialization, with unique abilities or a certified expert. For example, you found it in China, Russia or Santa Clara, but your company is located in San Diego;
- when the employee himself / herself cannot go to the office every day or it takes a very long time due to family circumstances or due to illness;
- when the employee is forced to be on a business trip for a long time, but his presence in the office is also necessary;
- when an employee must be in several places within one day. For example, the lecturer should give several lectures in different cities within one day; the head of the personnel department should interview candidates for work in several employment offices; the general customer wants to visit several co-executors in one day;
- when it is necessary to "appear" at the customer urgently to understand the reasons of failure of the equipment installed by you or to adjust it by hands of the personnel of the customer;
- when the personally presence economically impractical: only one or two trips can cost thousand dollars and exceeds the cost of the robot.
Here are more specific case studies
Suppose you are a programmer of a CNC machine, working at home. Before milling the part, usually first they track the trajectory of the cutter visually, "by air", before putting the workpiece on the machine. If you work at home, with the help of a robot you can remotely view the trajectory of the cutter before installing the parts and then during the milling process, even if the machine is located in China, and you are in San Jose. The telepresence robot wheels allow you to drive up to the machine and consider the process from the desired angle.
Similarly, you can see how the installer soldered your PCB, how the part was cut out on a CNC laser machine, what tooling and fixtures the assembler uses in the manufacture of the product according to your project.
You ordered the injection mold in other city, put it in an molding machine, which is located in China and cast detail. The item turned out to be defective. If you have a telepresence robot, the mold developer can remotely determine the nature of the defect, look at the instrument panel of molding machine, remotely perform (with your help) selection of more appropriate modes or make changes to the size and location of the tunnels by redesigning the mold.
Suppose you are a home worker programmer in a team working on a shared project. Every day there are meetings you must attend, the team members gives the ideas that require discussion during work day.
If your telepresence robot is turned on constantly and the image from its camera is displayed through the HDMI interface on your home TV, then you have a full feeling that you are sitting in the same room with the rest of the programmers, hear replicas concerning everyone and can drive "on the robot" to anyone and discuss the subtleties in the project. Your face is always visible on the robot monitor. During the meeting you see not only the one who speaks, but also the expression of the face of the rest of the audience, their facial expressions, hear their statements.
Further, in such events they usually use a board on which paint chalk schemes, diagrams, charts, etc. The robot allows you to turn to the board, drive closer, if you need to consider something in close distance. The effect of full presence is created, which is not reproduced by fixed monitors of traditional video conference.
Application of robots by managers
The managers need telepresence robot in the following cases:
- if the company has several offices in different cities or countries. There are communication tasks of the company head with heads of remote offices (tasks of a teleconference);
- if the company head lives in another city;
- if the company owner or manager wants to check what employees do in the remote office, how often they smoke and whether they are going to "groups for informal communication";
- if company head can remotely show the company to remote customer;
- if the manager wants to see how the contractors fulfill the order performing, for example, in China;
- if the buyer wants to inspect a large machine, room or process, your manufacturing process;
- if the company builds a new office or workshop, the director can monitor the construction process at any time instead of spending time on travel.
- remote participation in scientific, economic or political forums;
- remote visit to the exhibition;
- if the office is in one place and the warehouse is in another, then the robot can control how the goods are stored in the warehouse, how the storekeeper releases it, whether they politely communicate with visitors.
The essence of telepresence and alternatives
The essence of telepresence is very clearly described in the movie "Avatar". It is a complete remote presence, with all the sensations and emotions associated with it, with the transmission of signals from and to all the sense organs. The robot, which provides only tele-controlled video and audio communication, physically transmits only sound and video, but psychologically achieved a much stronger effect: the robot allows you to see facial expressions, gestures, eye expression, changes in the situation, the movement of people in the room and feel the movement of himself. It's much more than just a video conference. This creates a feeling of your presence in the team. Psychologically it is quite another level of communication than phone or video conference.
The following alternatives are available for implementing remote presence:
- robots that do not have wheels, but allow you to change the direction of the screen and webcam;
- teleconference systems when large fixed video screens are installed in the room, which display the image of remote persons;
- small-sized robots-toys with telepresence function;
- PTZ video cameras (their rotation in two planes can be controlled via the Internet);
- normal computer with Skype installed.
The common difference between these variants and telepresence robots is the inability to move the point of presence in the space or the inconvenience of communication (as in the case of toys).
In robot computers sometimes they install additional software (like face recognition, text-to-speech, chat-bot), but these functions are not directly related to the telepresence and can be installed in a tablet of any robot.