Is telepresence the next big thing in robotics? Will telepresence robots revolutionize work, manufacturing, energy production, medicine, space exploration, and other facets of modern life? Or is it just all hype?
See below a compilation of opinions from interviews I did and from other sources. Then tell us what you think in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
"Manual labor could easily be done without leaving your home ... One region of the world could export the specialized skills it has. Anywhere."
—Marvin Minsky, MIT professor, in his 1980 telepresence essay
"Telepresence is vastly easier to do than AI is, so remotely controlling a robot -- be it to visit a remote location or do surgery -- will mature much sooner than autonomous robots will."
—Rob Enderle, principal analyst, Enderle Group
"After 100 years of advances in communications, where we discovered how to transmit text, voice, images, why not try to transmit presence?"
—Trevor Blackwell, founder and CEO of Anybots
"It made me realize that the telepresence experience -- you actually can have these robotic avatars, then your consciousness is injected into the vehicle, into this other form of existence. It was really quite profound."
—James Cameron, movie director, about piloting a robotic submersible into the shipwreck of Titanic, in a TED talk in Long Beach, Calif., early this year
"Whatever hugs do for people, I'm quite sure telehugs won't do it."
—Hubert Dreyfus, philosopher at the University of California, Berkeley, in The Robot in the Garden: Telerobotics and Telepistemology in the Age of the Internet
"All of these [robotic telepresence] products are just begging me to kick them over."
—Lou Mazzucchelli, an expert in video teleconferencing, in this New York Times article
Erico Guizzo is the Director of Digital Innovation at IEEE Spectrum, and cofounder of the IEEE Robots Guide, an award-winning interactive site about robotics. He oversees the operation, integration, and new feature development for all digital properties and platforms, including the Spectrum website, newsletters, CMS, editorial workflow systems, and analytics and AI tools. An IEEE Member, he is an electrical engineer by training and has a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.