iRobot AVA Telepresence Robot at CES 2011 -- One Step Closer to Robot App Stores

iRobot AVA Telepresence Robot

I would like to introduce you to iRobot's latest prototype: a new telepresence robot named AVA that was unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2011) -- see the video below.  Through AVA, iRobot intends to explicitly leverage the proliferation of tablets / smart phones and their associated app stores.  They intend to furnish actuation (mobile base, pan-tilt unit, telescoping linear actuator spine, etc.), a sensor suite (including sonar, laser, and a depth camera like Microsoft's Kinect), and basic robot software (eg. obstacle avoidance, mapping, and direct physical interfaces).  Meanwhile, you provide the brains in the form of a tablet (eg. iPad or Android).  In theory, this should open up mobile robot application development to a much broader audience, creating the oft-discussed robot app store.  When combined with the recent announcement of the Scooba 230 floor cleaning robot (which I will certainly purchase), I would say iRobot is still innovating!

I'd like to acknowledge the folks at PCMagazine, who wrote a nice article that introduced me to AVA.  They got to attend CES while I'm busy working on thesis...  Anyway, here is what AVA looks like.

iRobot AVA Telepresence Robot


The spine is a telescoping linear actuator (perhaps a Spiralift- or Zippermast-type device?) that extends the robots height.  It seems to be commanded by a direct physical interface -- presumably through some form of force / touch sensing.  This was actually the most fascinating aspect of the full-length Colin Angle interview on PCMag's website, so I made a very short snippet showing this just this interaction -- the full-length video follows after.



AVA is the second iRobot announcement in the last few weeks -- we just recently learned of a pending update to the classic Scooba line of hard-floor cleaning robots, called the Scooba 230.  The Scooba 230 is much smaller than past variants, and it promises to be a hit!  Well... at least I intend to purchase one.

iRobot Scooba 230 Floor Washing Robot

iRobot Scooba 230 Floor Washing Robot

iRobot Scooba 230 Floor Washing Robot



Well, that was fast.  It looks like Engadget and CNET are now carrying the story too.  I'd like to share a few of their images, but just remember, you heard it from Hizook first. ;-)

iRobot AVA Telepresence Robot  iRobot AVA Telepresence Robot


—Travis Deyle

The buzz continues... GetRobo, RobotStockNews, and BotJunkie (who promises a forthcoming interview video).

iRobot AVA Telepresence Robot


—Travis Deyle

And check out Pilot Presence - talking about this segment of the remote presence / telepresence robot space.


I just checked out Pilot Presence -- great site!  In fact, they just posted a CES 2011 video of Vgo Communications' founder and inventor Brad Kayton discussing the Vgo telepresence robot.  One of the most interesting things from the video is that Palantir Health and Orbitz are two of Vgo's customers.

—Travis Deyle

I was lucky enough to attend CES and met Colin Angle.

AVA is a telepresence robot built inexpensively from other products.  An iPad is fastened on top - and since the new iPad 2's will have two cameras - one front and back  - the iPad could be used for two-view applications, the telepresence visual agent.  Affixed below the iPad is a Kinect-like device for navigation, gesture recognition and additional sensor input - this device could be used for a variety of apps like hands-free communication with the iPad, following the actions of a nurse, etc.  And driving the whole thing is iRobot's core mobility device and nav system.

When I asked Colin about whether it was iRobot's version of a telepresence robot he said that it wasn't anything just yet - rather, it was a mobile device, cheaply made from user-friendly components, waiting for users to provide the apps for it to do their bidding.  Then I asked him whether it was a home health device and he smiled and said that once it matured into something, their health robotics unit would be the first to make use of it.

Full story at, the blog of The Robot Report ( 

Nice to see you here Frank.

iRobot has officially made it to TutuApp Store. Download Tutuapp APK for Android.

—David Mishra

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