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Mobile Robots

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/science/05robots.html?ref=technology

Gist – Telepresence robots being used more for medical and workplace needs
Tags – mobile robots, off-site diagnosis, telepresence,

He took a seat in front of the latest tools of his trade: computer monitors, a keyboard and a joystick that control his assistant on the scene — a robot on wheel… The robot’s stereophonic hearing conveyed the answers. Using the hypersensitive camera on the monitor, Dr. Shatzel zoomed in and out and swung the display left and right, much as if he were turning his head to look around the room… Mobile robots are now being used in hundreds of hospitals nationwide as the eyes, ears and voices of doctors who cannot be there in person… machines do not represent a great improvement over video teleconferencing. But advocates say the experience is substantially better, shifting control of space and time to the remote user…. when he began using the robot during his residency, he would carry his laptop in a backpack so he could perform consultations anytime… Mr. Beltzner has now used the Willow Garage robot for more than a month, usually four to six times a week to attend meetings and chat with his co-workers in Mountain View… finds it to be a distinctly different experience from a video teleconference or a computer chat system… “With the robot, I find that I’m getting the same kind of interpersonal connection during the meetings and the same kind of nonverbal contact”… “Using Skype would require me to initiate a phone call,” he said. “This gives me more of a passive ability. I’m just sitting here like I would be at my desk if I was in the office… being used by family members to pay visits and offer help to elderly parents…

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