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How to attend a robotics show robotically

Oct 16, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Suitable Technologies is offering $50 rentals of its “Beam” mobile telepresence robot, so 50 robotics enthusiasts can remotely attend the RoboBusiness conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Oct. 23-25. The Ubuntu- and ROS-based Beam will be available to the first 50 applicants, letting them explore the show at up to 1.5 meters/sec and interact with others via video conferencing.

In August, following its acquisition of most of the resources and staff of Willow Garage, one of the key developers of the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), Suitable Technologies expanded its promotion of the company’s Beam telepresence robot. (See farther below for more details.)

The Beam is a good choice for remotely exploring conferences, saving users the cost and time of traveling to an event, says Suitable Tech. For example, RoboBusiness registration is $1,595, plus hotel and travel. The Beam might also help strike up conversations one might not otherwise engage in, although it’s likely to attract less attention at a robotics conference than at a typical tech event.





Beam lets you interact as though you’re on location
(click images to enlarge)

 

The bots will be allowed everywhere on the show floor as well as in conference rooms, and the show will be open late to accommodate remote users from distant time zones. Rentals for the duration of the show go for $50 for the whole conference for users who sign up by Oct. 21. Assuming some of the 50 bots are still available at that time, they will be available for $100 rentals starting Oct. 22. The RoboBusiness show itself starts the next day, and runs Oct.23-25. Some free press rentals are also said to be available.

Keynote speakers at the show include Dan Kara, Chief Research Officer at Myria RAS and Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics at Georgia Tech, speaking on robotics trends in general. Brendon Basso, a senior engineer at 3D Robotics, will discuss agricultural bots, and another keynote covers medical bots.

There are two keynotes on autonomous vehicles, one from Carnegie Mellon research professor Sanjiv Singh on autonomous aircraft, and another by Christ Urmson, Director of Google’s Self-Driving Cars project. Additional keynotes will be given by representatives of iRobot, CSIRO, Littler Mendelson, Nest Labs, and Aethon. Presentation tracks range from business issues, new markets and applications, robot design and development, and enabling technologies.
 

On the Beam

The remotely-piloted Beam bot runs Robot Operating System (ROS) plus low-latency Skype-like video conferencing software on top of an Ubuntu-based embedded OS. Built around an Intel Core i3 processor, the 62-inch tall Beam is equipped with a 17-inch display with a 3:4 aspect ratio.

Users can remotely control the Beam via WiFi or 4G LTE cellular connections, viewing whatever the bot sees through its overhead and navigational cameras. Videoconferences are two way, and are supported with a six-microphone array and speakers.To ensure privacy, no recording of video or audio is allowed.

The two-wheeled Beam can travel up to 1.5 meters/sec, and offers differential steering with stabilizing casters. It can operate on batteries for up to eight hours, says Suitable Tech. Beam pricing starts at $16,000.

For more background and details on the Beam, read our detailed earlier report on the device.

More information on the Suitable Technologies Beam promotion, as well as registration may be found at the Suitable Technologies website. More on the robot show may be found at the RoboBusiness website.
 

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