Telepresence robots may evoke images of gags from television sitcoms, but the latest release from Double Robotics is aimed at making telepresence a legitimate tool for conducting business at long distances. The company unveiled its latest model, the Double 2, on Wednesday at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.
The new model features several improvements over the original designed to make moving and working in a typical office easier. With the tagline “Work from Anywhere,” the Double 2 features more speed, better stability control, and a wider-angle camera to make it easier for users to get to and participate in meetings, according to the company.
Better Camera, Wider Angle
The company introduced its first model, the Double, a few years ago, and managed to attract the attention of enterprise clients with the relatively low price tag of $2,500 for the base model. The company managed to keep the price low thanks to a simple design: the robot isn’t much more than an iPad mounted to a Segway-like device.
The latest model includes upgrades based on feedback from buyers of the original model, including the new camera addition. While the original model depended on the quality of the tablet’s built-in camera, the Double 2 comes with a camera attachment. The camera kit offers a 5-megapixel image transmitted in 1080p resolution to make users feel more like they're actually on site.
The new camera also offers a 150-degree field of view, a 70 percent increase in viewing area that should make it easier to navigate crowded office environments, see around conference tables, or view whiteboards in their entirety without having to move.
The Double 2 also uses a predictive algorithm that can determine whether the robot is moving or stationary to optimize image quality. The camera kit is also designed to be backwards compatible with the original Double model, for customers who want to mount the upgrade on existing devices.
Faster and More Stable
The Double 2 is designed for greater stability and maneuverability compared to the original. Double also added lateral stability control to the new model, a shock absorption mechanism built in the base to maintain lateral stability while traversing common obstacles in an office or classroom setting, such as cords, bumps, or changes in thresholds.
It’s also faster. The Double 2 comes with a “Power Drive” setting that enables the robot to go up to 80 percent faster than normal driving speed, when the driver needs to go a long distance. The accelerated setting allows the robot to reach speeds of up to 1.6 miles per hour, the average walking speed of a human. That should help telecommuters traverse larger offices and get to meetings on time.
The Double 2 is available now at $2,499 a pop, the same price as the original model. Additional options can bring the cost up to $3,000.