Telepresence is a recurring concept in SciFi, and is increasingly becoming a reality. It is the idea of being able to attend a place, or a meeting, without actually being there. One method is to have a robot that can attend in your place, being remotely driven.

The most simplified form of this may be the common telephone, but adding in video (a videophone) at each end brings you closer to feeling like you are having a natural conversation with someone a long way distant. Setups with a camera which may be controlled by the viewer, and a room full of people around a conference phone are now in the board rooms of many large companies.

At the far end of this, is the ability to project holograms, or have a robot represent you. A person would then use the robot to interact physically with the surroundings, while also having full audio and visual feedback, and being able to talk. This would allow people to take tours of dangerous situations, with a team of robots being controlled by a team of people back safe and dry in a remote location.

This is still remote controlled, although with a rich feedback system, it is a much richer experience than the common RC system. Imagine being able to explore an ocean floor, or a volcanic crater, or some planet other than our own.

Even in the more mundane office situation, actually being able to have a physical presence may be of use, it may allow your telepresence bot to present real props, while you also control an on screen presentation.

The age of the armchair tourist never looked so good!

  • Stargate : MALP - This SciFi bot has cameras, speakers, microphones and a manipulator