In today’s interview, Todd Miller, creator of Robot Living, discusses the integration of telepresence robots into society and shares an entertaining video of a robot running an errand. Be sure to watch it! Miller has always loved robots and science fiction. An interest in mechanical things and David Macaulay’s building books, such as Castle, heavily influenced him. When he was learning how to build web pages, Miller’s passion for robots resulted in the 2007 birth of RobotLiving.com. Miller loves robots of all kinds, from the famous R2D2 of Star Wars fame, to the old-fashioned tin robot toys, and he has actually built some small robots himself.
Q: How do you think telepresence robots will shape our future?
TM: For businesses, the robots will reduce the need for travel. If telepresence robots become cheap enough, they could end up in many homes, not just in offices. This would change how you interact with relatives and friends who are far away.
Q: How quickly do you predict telepresence robots to be fully integrated into society?
TM: That depends on how cheap they become and what you consider fully integrated. If every large company with remote offices had one, I would say that might take 10 years. Integrating into homes will take longer because not everyone has WiFi.
Q: What industry do you see telepresence robots fitting into the best?
TM: For now, they fit businesses with multiple offices in different states or countries.
Q: What do you think the most common use for telepresence robots will be?
TM: Holding meetings with other colleagues without actually being there. Oh, and buying scones of course.
Q: Do you predict telepresence robots becoming a form of social media?
TM: No, the cost is too high. Also, you can't carry around a robot like you can your cell phone.
Q: How do you feel about hospitals using robots for post-op patient care?
TM: Of course, a human in a hospital is always better, but over time we will get used to telepresence robots.
Q: Do you think the MH-2 that researchers in Japan recently developed will be widely used once commercially available? Why or why not?
TM: No, would you want to wear that thing?
Q: Which telepresence robot do you think is the best one commercially available? Why?
TM: We are partial to the QB by Anybots. The price is fair, it seems easy to use, and we like how it looks.
Q: What feature would be useful to add to a telepresence robot?
TM: A warning far enough in advance to let you know the robot needs a recharge. That would give you time to wrap up what you are doing and go recharge. Also, built in language translation would be nice in case you need to go to a meeting where everyone speaks different languages.
Q: If you had a telepresence robot, what would you use it for?
TM: Visiting elderly relatives in assisted living homes or vising kids in school to get them interested in science. Miller sees an exciting future for robots. “Even though some of those great old science fiction stories from the 1950s may never really happen, some of them don’t seem so far away from reality now,” says Miller. We thank Todd Miller for offering his thoughts on these topics. You can read more of his work at Robot Living by clicking the link at the top of this article. Check back for our next interview!