It will be released in early 2014

Many companies today have remote workers all around the world, and iRobot Corp. is looking to bring those remote employees a little closer to the office.

iRobot and Cisco worked together to create iRobot Ava 500, which is a video collaboration robot for the enterprise. It aims to allow remote workers to not only be present at meetings and office collaborations, but also move about the office without much effort. 

The iRobot Ava 500 uses Cisco’s TelePresence EX60 personal video endpoint, and has the EX60’s 21.5-inch HD resolution screen on top of a mobile robotics platform. It also utilizes Cisco's Aironet 1600 Series wireless access points for enterprise-grade security. 

The iRobot Ava 500 works like this: a remote worker uses an iPad interface to choose their destination within an office, such as a particular meeting room. Once selected, an iRobot Ava 500 automatically leaves its charging station and travels to the desired location. The user doesn't have to steer or direct the robot in any way; its built-in maps allow for autonomous navigation.

While traveling about the halls, elevator, etc. of an office, the user can choose whether to be in private mode or public mode. When in private mode, the screen on the robot is blank. But in public mode, the user appears on the screen and can engage in water cooler conversation if they'd like -- just like a physical employee. The iRobot Ava 500 is even developed to carefully avoid bumping into people or inanimate objects while traveling.

Once the robot reaches the desired destination, it allows the user to engage in team collaboration, tours, inspections, presentations and corporate training. 

“iRobot is excited to work with Cisco to bring this next generation of telepresence to businesses worldwide,” said Youssef Saleh, vice president and general manager of iRobot’s Remote Presence business unit. “iRobot has been successful in introducing autonomous remote presence platforms to hospitals. Ava 500 will unlock new markets and applications for telepresence in the workplace."

The iRobot Ava 500 is expected to be available in early 2014. 

Source: iRobot

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