Working from home is becoming more synchronized with office activity than ever before
Working from home will be stepped up a level now that Google intends to develop a telepresence drone. A patent application made public on February 2 revealed its specifications. This takes telepresence robotics to the next level. Online work in Google is already done with such technology.
Google believes it will solve many problems faced by current telepresence robots
The diagrams within the patent application publication reveal the capabilities of this drone. It would be a small quad copter with an H-frame. The drone will incorporate the use of a tablet, or even a smartphone. There appears to be potential for the tiny aircraft to beam images from a projector.
Currently, telepresence robotics appear to have reached the limit of their technological capabilities. Google wishes to circumvent this by creating a drone that can fly between rooms. It will not experience the restriction of staircases; as current telepresence systems do. Google claims it will use less energy, and increase engagement.
Current telepresence robots obviously have their advantages and disadvantages
Many of which this drone would share with them. Critics wonder why such a system is necessary when we have technology such as Skype. When a person is not physically present, they cannot fully actively participate.
It’s not like you can go for lunch and share a meal with a face on a screen. Activities such as document signing is also impossible.
Users of the robotic floor bound versions of this technology have also reported other problems
At times audio will experience delays, or networks can crash. While tech has come a long way throughout time, it is still subject to failure and breakdown. Some have questioned the impersonal nature of the hardware. There is also the issue of there being no peripheral vision capabilities.
On the other hand, the advantages do seem to outweigh the perceived disadvantages.
Companies already report huge cost savings
They have saved tens of thousands of dollars by not needing to purchase flight tickets or hotel stays. If someone is sick, or restricted by bad weather, this technology can keep the workflow smooth.
Users have reported that they feel a sense of agency through the freedom to control the robot. Skype can feel too passive, and you are reliant on others to define your visual field.
Robotic telepresence maintains your assertive presence during in person meetings. Body language and voice tone enhance communication quality.
This technology is a breakthrough on many levels
Medical clinics in remote locations can access specialists from anywhere in the world. With the drone technology, this could mean further reach. Disaster zones can receive specialized assistance and advice more immediately.
Building inspections, or any kind of “rounds” made by doctors or managers are no longer restrained by location. A telepresence drone can bring your presence to any terrain, from anywhere in the world. You are not floor bound.
The beginning of telepresence robotics is very recent
Up until around 5 years ago, technology was not even capable of achieving this. Engineers did not have access to good enough microphones, processors, sensors and cameras. Broadband has only recently become fast enough to handle it, with the cost also becoming less inhibiting.
iRobot developed the first telepresence robots offered to consumers. The Ava 500 became available in June 2013. Ava 500 incorporated technology used by military robots. The iRobot founders had been war robot designers at MIT.
The most popular on the market incorporate a Segway design
Double Robotics has sold these successfully to many blue chip companies and organizations.
However, Google is clearly taking this up a level. Utilizing drones for telepresence will give them a competitive advantage. Currently there is no word about when manufacture of these will begin. But it is clear that Google intends to bank on this superior technology.