iRobot AVA

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iRobot AVA

iRobot has not only updated its two most popular household robot lines, but presented a whole new robot concept at CES 2011. The iRotob AVA, as they call it, is a programmable telepresence robot that can attend far away meeting for us. The AVA represents the second generation of programmable robots after the Create, and it includes most of the innovations that iRobot is working with now.

iRobot AVA is a tall, column type robot that can adjust its height between 90-150 cm (3-5 feet), and can crawl around on three wheels. On the top of the telescopic head lies the iPad head that displays image of the controlling person in the distance. The head also holds a microphone and a webcam to transmit live stream to the remote location. Although the robot's movements can be controlled from the distance, it is equipped with a line of interesting sensors to be able to map its environment. The main source of information is the same PrimeSense technology that made the Microsoft Kinect famous, but it was augmented with some laser and ultrasonic scanners and of course a few collision detectors. Thanks to these sensors the remote party can pick any location in the room by clicking on the transmitted image, and the robot will be able to get there easily.

Although the displayed prototype had an iPad attached to its top, the robot should work with Android tablets as well. The robot's behavior is controlled by the applications running on the tablet, so anyone who can write code to those portable computers can program the AVA as well. The AVA itself has a Linux based operating system called Aware2.

The 18 kg (40 pounds) robot operates 6 hours on one charge and just like Roombas, it can dock and charge itself. Unfortunately iRobot refused to release any information about the estimated price and the date of availability.

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