Overview of Small and Inexpensive Telepresence Robots

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A small dimension doesn’t represent always weaker features and this could be the case for these small telepresence robots presented in this article. Helios, Mobiton, Botiful, or KUBI are examples of how communication can be maintained with limited resources and at an affordable price instead investing much more money in advanced telepresence robots for almost the same behavior.

Like advanced telepresence robots, these small two wheel-based platforms can use advanced mobile devices for communication and control. More than that, these could be used for games or to inspect the house when you’re far away from home.

Using mobile devices like smartphones or tablets, the control of the robot and communication can be made in minutes and without too much technical knowledge.

Below is a list with small telepresence robots, some of these are mobile while KUBI is a stand-alone communication system.

Helios

Helios

Helios

Started based on the idea to build a small and affordable telepresence robot, Helios is a product part of start-up company Hello Labs founded by Tian Long Wang. This little and mobile telepresence robot was designed as a simple and affordable solution for telepresence communications.

Based on two wheels, the little robot can interact with your friends and family in minutes only using an Apple mobile device like iPod touch, iPhone 4 or higher versions.

The user has to install first an application with a simple web-based interface that control the robot. Once the application is installed the owner can control the robot in any direction or tilt the device up or down to have a good view.

Any of the Apple devices listed above are connected to a device via dock station located at the top of the Helios. The screen of the mobile device display images with a user on the other end of the connection.

The robot is controlled in an innovative way using black and white squares displayed at the bottom of the screen. These little colored squares correspond to control commands that finally move the robot in the right direction.

Inside Helios uses Arduino Nano controller including Arduino programming and iOS API.

Mobiton

Mobiton

Mobiton


Mobiton is a robotic platform with docking station for Android smartphone used to control and receive/transmit images for users. The two wheels are used for movement while four fixed legs are used as sensors in case that the robot is closer to the edge and to prevent an accidental fall.

This mini robot can be controlled using an Android device and if you want many more features, you can build your own application. Mobiton was designed for two main things: it can be used as an assistant or it can be used to play games.

If the docking station could support only Android devices, the robot can be controlled from anywhere using an Internet connection and a PC, Apple or Android mobile devices. And because it is a mobile robot, the user can control it to move anywhere as long as there is a good viewing angle. Micro servos are used for tilting the mobile device and provide a better view angle.

The four fixed legs have integrated four infrared distance sensors for preventing an accident falling by detecting the table edge.

Inside the robot has an Atmel Mega ADK board and his brain is a little Atmega386 microprocessor.

Botiful

Botiful

Botiful


Botiful is built to be present anywhere at a click away while playing games with a kid, visit the home when you’re thousands of miles away, you can talk to your dog, and many more activities that can be linked by this little mobile robot.

Using Skype and a mobile device for communication, when the smartphone is connected to robot all your contacts from Skype are instantly alerted and ready to be connected.

The robot can be customized with new applications or with a large palette of colors. Using the Botiful API, Botiful Android API, and Network API you can build new and advanced applications including apps for communication, games, or apps for security.

Small dimensions, safety, and easy to be used, three characteristics that makes from this little robot a very interesting alternative to a telepresence robot like iRobot Ava, Double, mObi, and many more devices.

KUBI

KUBI

KUBI

KUBI cannot be classified like a robot, it is an inexpensive stand-alone device designed to offer the users a view of 300 degrees. Designed by Revolve Robotics and with a name that translated from Japanese means ‘neck’, KUBI has located at the top a tablet caught with two “antennas” and tilted left and right for 300 degrees while up and down can be tilted to 90 degrees.

The two “antennas” hold tablets with screen size ranging between 7.9-inch and to 10.6-inch. Also, the communication does not depend on the operating system.

Based on a larger disc, the stability of the device is not in doubt while the support arm has a solid construction.

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Dragos George Calin
Dragos George Calin is an IT analyst who graduated Faculty of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, specialization Industrial Automation and Informatics with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering, Automation and Computer Science. He has a great passion for robots and web development.
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