VGo telepresence robot is defined by three main features which include the possibility to hear, talk and move around. The two active wheel robot is designed to be used especially in healthcare, but education or business fields also should be included. Used like an avatar, VGo replaces the physical presence of the user with virtual images and sounds in a distant location.
Using telepresence robots is a low cost solution to raise the productivity in a hospital where the doctor communicate with the patient and assistance from another location, or in a factory where the manager can have a real view of what happens even it is in another location or on another continent.
Based on wheels, the robotic avatar move around under user control using a PC or laptop and the VGo application. Any user can explore the environment without being dependent on someone; the user is in two different places at just a click away and drives the robot completely freedom in any direction. VGo has integrated high quality audio and video systems with 360-degree sound capture using four microphones and 2 MP motorized camera. The voice of the user is heard by everyone from high quality woofer and tweeter speakers.
The weaknesses of the robot are the WiFi connectivity and the battery power. Without Internet connection the robot is useless, likewise in the case when the battery is empty.
The robot was designed in the labs of VGo Communications with the headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire. The idea behind the robot is to have a real video and audio communication tool used in any place with minimal resources.
VGo has a head and is characterized by a screen, communication camera and speakers, and an intelligent touch-pad for setup and local control. The screen has a six inches diagonal and display color images with the user. The camera can be automat or manual tilted, and for high resolution snapshots to capture is available a flash. For dark places can be used the auxiliary light located under the video camera. The six inches screen is surrounded in the left side by lights that indicates the status, while in the right side are integrated four microphones for what the user need to hear. At the bottom of the screen is located the speaker. Under the speaker is located the intelligent touch-pad control with five buttons designed to be used for setup and local control.
The base is used primarily for mobility ensured by two active wheels that provide a maximum speed of 76 cm/sec (2.5 ft/sec). Both wheels are controlled independently and are driven by two electric motors. At the top of the wheels is the compartment for battery with space for six or twelve hour’s batteries. Advanced sensors are located in the front of the bases which are designed to detect any obstacle or cliff. In addition for a full sound at the wheeled base is integrated another speaker. In the dark can be used two headlights light located in front of the robotic base.
VGo is designed to be controlled from distance using a laptop or PC with VGo application installed on it. Up to 20 users can download and install the application that link the devices, but at a time only one user can drive the robot. There are two news: a good one and a bad one. The bad news is that the application is Windows 7, Vista, or XP compatible, while the good news is that the calls run on a special cloud computing network designed to ensure a good transfer for audio and video communications combined with robot control.
A good time of running is required and for VGo this means up to six hours of intensive use. This is good and could become better using an extended battery with twelve working hours. VGo can be sent to recharge the battery using just a click of a button. The robot has stored in memory the path and can move to the VGo docks for recharging. The manufacturer offers a series of additional charge docks that can be installed in different places where the avatar robot is used.
There is a list of requirements without which the robot cannot be operational. The list includes a laptop or a PC with one of Microsoft operating system including Windows 7, Vista, or XP. The control station should have at least a dual core processor with a working frequency of 2.0 GHz, camera, microphone and speakers. The VGo requirements include 802.11 b/g/n wireless coverage and 768 Kbps internet upload speed.
- Dimensions: 122 cm (48 inches) H x 33 cm (13 inches) W x 38 cm (15 inches) D;
- Weight: 8 Kg (18 lbs) with 6 hours battery included or 22 lbs with 12 hours battery;
- Type: Independent dual motorized drives;
- Speed: 0 to 76 cm/sec (2.5 ft/sec);
- Sensors: Include sensors for obstacle and cliff detection;
- Recharging: Auto-docking;
- Main camera: 2MP and H.264 30 fps video codec;
- Port: USB;
- Internet: WiFi;
- Screen: 6-inch LCD;
- Microphones: 4 microphones for 360 degree sound capture;
- Speakers: woofer and tweeter;
- Light: 38 illumination and status LED;
- Control: remote using PC App and integrated touch-pad user controls;