Introduction and Guide to Telepresence Robots

Have you ever needed to be in two places at once? Or do you need to attend a conference meeting thousands of miles away but you’re physically unable to in the present? Well, good thing we are now in the age where advancements in robotics and modern engineering can make it possible. With the use of a telepresence robot, it is now possible to see, hear and navigate spaces that you do not physically inhabit. This technology is extremely useful in a variety of different settings like a corporate office, a hospital, or even in your home when you’re far away. Simply log in to your robot and be there in a heartbeat.

Video conferencing lets you be seen, but telepresence can give your communication a whole new level of realism. A telepresence robot is basically a computer, tablet or smartphone-controlled robot that includes a video camera, screen, microphones and speakers so people can interact with the robot and the user of the robot can interact with the people around it, providing a virtual presence or “telepresence.” With a telepresence robot, you can have a pair of mobile “eyes,” “ears,” “mouth” and “legs” so you can have a remote presence at any location with a reliable internet connection. The operator has full control over what they want to see and hear – no need to wait for other people to leave their seats to communicate with you – you can just go to them.

Besides these things, here are the other benefits of telepresence robots:

Makes risky tasks safer

Rather than sending police forces, structural engineers and other professionals into potentially dangerous areas, companies can send those pros via their robotic telepresence. This allows the experts to come and scope out the situation using their knowledge without risking their lives.

Allows for a seamless work experience

Remote employees used to miss out on group work and everyday human interaction with colleagues. But with telepresence robots, even they can be wheeled aside for team projects and meetings, casual pantry conversations and other personal engagement that cannot be provided by video conferencing. It gives a seamless work experience that allows employers and colleagues to benefit from the employee’s full range of skills.

Cuts down time and expenses

Let’s say you have a part in a big conference in your company’s office in London but you can’t afford to lose time for packing and travel when you have lots of work to do in your office in New York the next day. To make sure you can participate in the conference far away while preserving your energy for a long work day ahead in your home office, a telepresence robot would allow you to interact and share your output while being at the comforts of home. It cuts down precious travel time that you can allocate to doing other tasks, while also lessening travel expenses.

Allows you to hire the best person for the job and experience their presence

Telecommuting has been a big help for companies, allowing them hire the best person for the job, regardless of where they live. Now, companies can see “face-to-face” the insights and personality of the remote employee, as they can bring them into ad hoc meetings, impromptu discussions and even lunch outs through the use of telepresence robots. While video conferencing to see them is only limited for important purposes related to the job, using telepresence robots can make them feel like a real part of the team while also allowing the colleagues to also get to know them better.

Best Telepresence Robots

You can find a few reliable telepresence robots for business, and here are some of them:

Where to Buy
Suitable Technologies Beam System Enhanced
Double Robotics Double 2
PadBot U1


1. Suitable Technologies Beam System Enhanced

Rated as the best telepresence robot by many trusted tech experts, Suitable Technologies’ Beam Enhanced is a steal. It’s the most accessible telepresence system on the market and has been a mainstay for a good reason. The Beam system can satisfy all your remote communication needs while adding an impressive immersive experience to it.

Featuring a 4-microphone array and a 2.2 inch speaker, you can be sure that you will hear and be heard across the office. It has a 10-inch backlit LCD screen that can show your face clearly and more visible under bright light compared to a typical iPad screen. Both its front facing and navigational camera can shoot at 1080p, and videos are broadcasted at a smooth 30 fps. The built-in cameras have 104-degree-wide-angle producing a clear image of your office via the “head view.” You can control the Beam from any PC, Mac, iOS or Android device.

This robot works for a straight 8 hours – just as long as office hours, which is a big improvement from the cheaper version of the beam that only have two hours of battery life. It has two HDR cameras for navigation, and offers predictive path guidelines for smoother mobility. Its wheels are small but they can smoothly navigate around a room. When you hit the navigate button, it gives you a second video feed called the “navigation view,” which shows the top-down view of the wheels to properly navigate around obstacles. It’s 53-inches tall and is optimized for interaction, either sitting or standing.

The Beam Enhanced also comes with a three-year subscription and support, and you need to pay an annual fee after this period. Overall, it’s highly reliable and easy to use once you get the hang of it. It might be a tad expensive for some, so it’s not practical for home users, but its high-performance technology makes it ideal for business settings.

2. Double Robotics Double 2

Looking for a suitable telepresence robot to help you skip your commute but still have a presence in the office? Get this great telecommuting robot that doesn’t require your coworkers to set-up video conferencing just to speak to you and see you. Double 2 is the newer version of the Double telepresence robot from Double Robotics.

This kit comes with the core robot only, and you need to attach an iPad in its mobile robotic base to be able to control it via a remote iOS device or a PC. It’s compatible with iPad (3rd and 4th generation), iPad 2, iPad Air and iPad Air 2. The iPad you will use must also have iOS 8 or newer. This robot’s camera kit includes a 150-degree wide-angle lens for an increased field of view, and a 5 MP camera to help you take higher resolution photos. This camera also enables the always-on floor view so there’s no need to switch between camera views for a safer navigation of the robot.

In terms of stability, this robot has improved lateral stability control built in the base of the robot to easily avoid obstacles like cords, bumps or a change in threshold. Its Power Drive feature also enables the robot to go up to 80% faster than the default speed. Its internal rechargeable lithium ion battery can last up to 8 hours of normal use.

3. PadBot U1

The PadBot U1 has all your basic needs in a telepresence machine. It’s a pretty decent robot that is perfect for use in dropping in your office, coworkers and family instantly, as if you were there. This robot comes with an external speaker, wide-angle lens, and automatic docking features.

Like the Double 2, PadBot U1 also needs a tablet to be attached to the robot. The good thing about it is it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices such as those that support Bluetooth 4.0 or Android 4.3 or above. It supports Apple phones and tablets such as iPad, iPad Air and Air 2, iPad mini (1, 2, 3), iPad 4, and iPhone 4S and later models up to 6S Plus. However, it doesn’t support iPad 2, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and it’s not controllable yet by Windows PC or Mac. The robot communicates with the remote user through WiFi and 4G connectivity.

The great thing about the PadBot U1 is it’s very easy to control. Simply log in on an Android or iOS device you have at hand and you can be “on location” in a matter of seconds. Using an app, you can navigate the robot with no trouble. The PadBot U1 has obstacle avoidance sensors, so it would have no trouble driving over cords and changes in flooring. Plus, its auto-docking feature makes the robot automatically return to its charging station whenever its battery is low.