Can’t Attend Your Next Meeting?
functions to help Anybots’ telepresence robot maintain its balance.
Over the past couple of decades, robots have joined the factory, the operating room and the battlefield to perform tasks that require high speed, precision or which may put humans at risk. As the Age of Robots enters its next phase, the humble office could become the newest frontier for robotics designers as they try to save time-constrained workers from the tedium of endless meetings.
Indeed, telecommuting research and product development has been a focus of robotics companies for several years, as they try to help connect remote teams working over great distances. Research firm Gartner estimates that the video-conferencing segment of this market alone will grow 17.8 percent between 2008 and 2013 to $8.6 billion.
Anybots Inc., a 10-year-old robotics company based in Silicon Valley, is addressing what many experts agree is a growing productivity issue by taking a novel approach to telecommuting that incorporates advanced robotics equipped with motion sensing technology developed by Analog Devices, Inc. The Anybots QB telepresence robot assumes the physical presence of a remote user, complete with its “master’s” voice and image, and can be easily controlled using a simple web browser. And the Anybots QB is a robot on the go. Built on a base similar to a Segway scooter, the mobile QB features a LIDAR system to detect obstacles and is as adept at rolling through the company cube farm as it is attending a meeting in the conference room.
Although it is not designed to replace videoconferencing entirely, Anybots’ QB robot provides a way to engage with colleagues and employees without actually being in the office. The robot stands at roughly human height and includes an eye-level, 5-megapixel video camera. With about eight hours of battery life, the QB includes a 320 x 240 LCD screen, a loud speaker and a microphone that lets the operator converse with anyone that might be present. The QB’s bug-shaped “eyes” resemble Pixar’s Wall-E, and its “body” is jointed to allow the robot to express a few basic gestures.
ADI’s Advanced MEMS Inertial Measurement Unit Provides QB Sensor Data
Like the Segway, the Anybots QB telepresence robot uses Analog Devices’ iMEMS® motion sensor technology for navigation, platform stabilization, and as a control system to help it process the operator’s directional commands and remain upright even when bending.
The QB incorporates Analog Devices’ ADIS16364 iSensor® inertial measurement unit (IMU), which provides a full six degrees-of-freedom mobility by capturing and transmitting inertial sensor data to the system processor using a standard SPI interface.
The ADIS16364 is a complete inertial sensor system that includes a tri-axis gyroscope and tri-axis accelerometer. Each sensor in the ADIS16364 combines ADI’s iMEMS technology with signal conditioning that optimizes dynamic performance. Factory calibration characterizes each sensor for sensitivity, bias, alignment, and linear acceleration (gyro bias). As a result, each sensor has its own dynamic compensation formulas that provide accurate sensor measurements over a temperature range of −20°C to +70°C.
The ADIS16364 provides a simple, cost-effective method for integrating accurate, multiaxis, inertial sensing into industrial systems. This is especially true when compared with the complexity and investment associated with discrete MEMS designs, which require many more components and quickly become prohibitive due to cost and size. And unlike off-the-shelf MEMS components, ADI’s iSensor IMUs undergo motion testing and calibration as part of the factory production process, greatly reducing system integration time. Moreover, tight orthogonal alignment simplifies inertial frame alignment in navigation systems, while an improved SPI interface and register structure provides faster data collection and configuration control.
The compact ADIS16364 module is approximately 23 mm × 23 mm × 23 mm and provides a flexible connector interface that enables multiple mounting orientation options.
As a key technology enabler behind the Anybots robotic telepresence system, the high-performance ADIS16364 IMU has made MEMS motion sensing technology accessible to a new class of robots.