A robot buys a scone

A robot buys a scone

“A robot walks into a bar…”

Well, not walk, exactly…more like rolling.  Oh, and it’s not a bar, it’s a coffee shop.  Drat, it sounded like the start to a good joke!  😉

I recently wrote about a child with a compromised immune system who is attending school via a robot from Vgo.com.

That’s an amazing use of “telepresence”.  What’s telepresence?  That’s when you sort of appear to be somewhere else without actually being there.

“I’ve been trying for some time to develop a lifestyle that doesn’t require my presence.”
–Garry Trudeau, cartoonist of Doonesbury

While using a robot to attend school is laudable, what if you just want to get something from the coffee shop…without getting out of bed?  😉

Well, in this

YouTube video

you can see a robot doing just that.

The robot is from


The video, apparently shot by a bystander with a cellphone (or some other shaky cam) has some funny elements.

I love that someone says, “It’s got to be some crazy Google thing or something.”  That’s a perfectly reasonable guess…Google has had driverless cars on the road.  But it also shows how much our lives are being Googleized…much more, I’d say, than Microsoft affected us.  Microsoft changed some things at work and home…but Google is moving out into the real world.  Microsoft was behind a screen (on a desk, usually)…Google could be anywhere.

This isn’t related to Google, though, as far as I know.

I was also pleased that someone references “Johnny 5” from the Short Circuit movies.

To be clear, though, this isn’t a self-aware robot.  It’s got a person driving it, speaking for it, making decisions, and so on.  It’s sort of like a remote-controlled toy car with a videophone…The Great Garloo, but without the cable and with your face.  🙂

Telepresence is definitely part of the future.  At first, you’ll probably only see one of these “avatars” at an event.  Eventually, you’ll see two, or three, and then several.

One of the strange things is going to be jumping from bot to bot.  There will be competition for each one.

Can’t you see how much easier this might be?  Imagine shopping for a house…but telepresencing into it, rather than having to go out there.  At least for an initial “roll-through”, that would work.  How about going on those college tours when you are considering which one to attend?  You want to scope out the library?  That’s the robot you choose, and you go look at whatever sections you want.

Of course, that presumes your school still has a library with physical books.  😉

The biggest problem I’m seeing with the two “telebots” (I’m just making that up) that I’ve written about recently is…no arms.  How do you open doors?  Well, a lot of doors are automatic, now, and I suppose a nice person will almost always open one for the telebot, but some kind of manipulator will eventually be needed.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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