Seven years ago, iRobot introduced us to Ava, a sort of tech demonstrator designed to show how robots were capable of doing things like—well, the company wasn’t entirely sure, but telepresence was one of the ideas. The robot’s autonomous navigation was certainly impressive, and Ava could avoid moving obstacles at the speed of a brisk walk, which wasn’t something we’d seen a lot of back in 2011.
In 2012, iRobot announced RP-VITA, a medical telepresence robot based on the Ava platform. And in 2013, iRobot and Cisco collaborated on the Ava 500, a commercial telepresence system with integrated autonomous navigation. We haven’t heard too much about it since then, but that’s because iRobot had a secret plan for Ava: Today, iRobot is annoucing that it has spun Ava off into its own company, called Ava Robotics, which is (re?)launching the Ava platform as a “new video collaboration solution that offers users ‘practical teleportation’ with the ability to transform remote work and site visits.” A telepresence robot, in other words.
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