Cambridge, Mass.-based Ava Robotics, a startup that spun out of iRobot in late 2016, launched its Ava telepresence robot.
The big differentiator for the Ava telepresence robot, when compared to competitors such as Double Robotics and Suitable Technologies, is that Ava maps its environment and autonomously navigates through it. There’s no need for humans to drive Ava, as is required by other telepresence robots.
Ava is the next generation of the Ava 500 telepresence robot that iRobot introduced in 2013. The Ava telepresence robot has three cameras, including a 360-degree camera, compared to the one camera on the old model. There’s improved sound and gesture-based controls, too. Ava automatically returns to its charging station when users are finished.
“Ava was born from the realization that true connections and trust do not get formed around the conference table, rather during one-on-ones and through everyday work experiences,” said Youssef Saleh, CEO, Ava Robotics. “We’ve drawn upon iRobot’s 27-year history in robotics innovation to deliver what we call ‘practical teleportation’, and we are pleased to be part of the Cisco ecosystem in bringing this solution to enterprise customers.”
Saleh will be speaking at the Robotics Summit and Showcase, which takes place May 23-24 at the Westin Boston Waterfront. Saleh will join Andy McMillan, Chair of the Cirtronics Advisory Board, Cirtronics, and Tom Frost, President, Endeavor Robotics, on the panel “Wheels, Treads or Fins? DFx Optimizes Robot Manufacturing.” The discussion will share expertise on how to take a robot into outsourced production, with a focus on DFx and lessons learned. Although the three companies design and sell robots for very different markets, all of them rely on DFx to optimize product design, supply chain and assembly processes to simplify, accelerate and reduce the cost of manufacturing.
Robotics Summit and Showcase
Registration for the Robotics Summit is now open. Special early bird pricing ends April 20. The two-day event will address the technical issues involved with developing commercial robotics and intelligent systems products. Here is a look at the confirmed keynotes:
- Bipedal Locomotion and Autonomous Mobility
Damion Shelton, Co-founder and CEO, Agility Robotics
- Designing Mobile Picking Robots for e-commerce Fulfillment
Adrian Kumar, VP Solutions Design North America, DHL Supply Chain
- Robotics, Intelligent Systems and Transformational Innovation
John Lizzi, Executive Leader, Robotics, GE Global Research
- Producing Commercial Class Robotics Systems: Challenges and Advanced Manufacturing Solutions
John Dulchinos, Vice President, Global Automation and 3D Printing, Jabil
- Commercial Opportunities for Soft Robotics
George Whitesides, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
Principal Investigator, Whitesides Research Group, Harvard University
- The Robotics Opportunity Landscape for Technical Professionals
Dan Kara, Vice President, Robotics and Intelligent Systems, WTWH Media
Ava integrates with Cisco Spark and its videoconferencing platform (including WebEx), instead of requiring a separate telepresence platform. According to Saleh, there are about 20 Ava telepresence robots in beta tests. Ava Robotics is also still supporting about 200 of the older Ava 500s.
Ava Robotics is hoping to differentiate itself in part by implementing a robotics-as-a-service model. It’s an interesting approach as the aforementioned competitors offer solutions at lower prices. The cost of renting an Ava telepresence robot will be under $1,000 per month, including technical support. Ava will be available through Cisco resellers, too, as a new videoconferencing option.
A 2017 WinterGreen Research report said the telepresence robot market was $1.4 billion in 2016, with a forecast of $8 billion by 2023.
“Autonomous robotic telepresence solutions such as Ava can have a dramatic impact on improving productivity and collaboration in a geographically diverse global enterprise,” Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, said in a statement.