Of course, the iRobot machines in question are anything but toys. Forget about your Roomba, too—the uPoint Multi-Robot Tablet Controller is made for the heavy-duty field bots used by medical personnel and the military to complete life-and-death missions. So, it’s pretty awesome that controlling one of those robots is now so easy and streamlined, the learning curve has practically been flattened.
The uPoint MRC is an Android app, for starters. Before this, each iRobot device required its own controller, made specifically for the robot in question and the features that were included. Now, multiple robots can be controlled from this single app, and switched between with ease. Control is based on touch—operators can simply touch on the screen where they want the robot to go, and the app will make it happen. They can also keep the robot continuing straight ahead, or have it adjust its route according to obstacles in the way. Any arms or tools on the robot can now be controlled with a few buttons and slider bars.
The app also facilitates the sharing of information. Data and video taken in by the robot can be recorded, saved, and shared using the app. uPoint MRC also acts as a repository for manuals, training tutorials, and reference materials, so those who need to deal with several kinds of robots can have all the information they need to do their jobs in one place.
The last part of uPoint MRC is the uPoint Robot Radio. In order to improve signal quality between operator and robot, iRobot has turned its robots into relays. This way, if the signal between operator and robot is weak, the signal can be bounced to another robot first, and then to the robot being controlled. Overall, this will help signal quality and make it possible for operators to control robots from greater distances, which is a huge boon for those running especially dangerous missions.
The uPoint MRC system is definitely an exciting addition to the world of defense and medical robots, but it’s not quite ready to go just yet. The app will be ready sometime during Q2 2015.