There’s a new automaton from iRobot, but it’s not going to be involved in any cleaning, unless it’s used by someone’s boss to tell them to clean out their desk.
The Ava 500 is the workplace robot – a huge tower with a display on top. Once it learns the layout of the office, the robot can move on its own to meeting rooms, where it can be used by offsite (or lazy) managers to join in the meeting via teleconference. More importantly, managers can have them placed in factories or other on-site work locations, so they can get a first-person view of what’s happening on the ground, instead of relying on reports.
In the office, the Ava 500 will remember the lay of the land, and it can be programmed to know the location of each employee’s desk – so yeah, a future where your boss rolls up to your desk in the form of a tower on wheels with a display on top is, in fact, here. Our deepest apologies.
Like most of iRobot’s devices, the Ava 500 will autonomously retire to its charging dock when it’s not in use. It has the same kind of obstacle detection technology found in devices like the Roomba, so there (in theory) shouldn’t be any Ava-related workplace accidents/assaults. The robot can mostly move on its own, but some of the finer points are open to control. Using an iPad app, managers can manually rotate the robot or tilt the display and/or camera. As for initiating calls, the robot will do that by itself upon reaching its programmed destination.
The Ava 500 has already been given a test run by multinational corporations like Bayer, which have used them for teleconferencing and cooperation between workplaces in Germany and the United States. They seem to love it, and so the Ava 500 is now getting a wider release.
If you’re looking for some sort of solace now that you know that your boss will be able to spy on you and your co-workers with incredible ease, take heart – the Ava 500 is a tall tower with a large display, so it’s not going to be hiding behind any office ferns. It’s also going to cost your boss a ton of money – $69,500, to be exact, or rented for $2,500 per month.