Colleague and labmate, Tiffany Chen, pointed out an interesting new robot named "MeBot" from MIT's Personal Robotics Group. Later this week, MeBot will be presented at the conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2010) in Osaka, Japan. The associated paper, "MeBot: A Robotic Platform for Socially Embodied Presence," has been nominated for best paper. In a nutshell, MeBot is a semi-autonomous robotic avatar that provides rich, remote interaction by conveying non-verbal channels of social communication in addition to video, something that is not provided by existing phone and video conferencing. The expressiveness of MeBot is impressive. It reminds me of the (now well-known) CrabFu Swashbot, but ups the ante by including video capabilities. Be sure to check out the videos and photos below to see what I mean.
Some quick videos:
A plethora of details are available in Sigurdur Orn Adalgeirsson's MS Thesis, which also has some great photos of the fourth (and final?) version of MeBot:
You can learn more about this robot from the MIT Personal Robotics Group's MeBot project page.