Massachusetts-based iRobot, the maker of Roomba, has moved into the telepresence space along with a host of startups. Its RP-VITA and AVA 500 machines are designed for hospitals and workplaces, respectively.
Both are autonomously navigating wheeled columns topped by HD displays that show the remote human operator's face. Doctors can talk to patients through RP-VITA, which received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year, or direct others during emergencies such as stroke treatment. The AVA 500 can serve as a teleconference vehicle, but equipped with a robot arm or other tools, it could act as a remote security guard, cargo bot or factory inspector, with or without telepresence functions.