How Robots Bring the Mob Life to You

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Special telepresence bots let people with physical disabilities explore cultural venues, such as Vegas’ Mob Museum, just like everyone else.

Story by Roger Cheng, CNET

Pamela Forth was determined to bring a little culture into her fiancé’s life.

That was no easy feat. Two decades earlier, a car accident left Roger Sprong a quadriplegic, with limited mobility. That made any trip too far beyond his Valparaiso, Indiana, home a challenge.

But Forth, a 61-year-old teacher from Palm Harbor, Florida, was determined, and learned about telepresence robots — roughly 5-foot tall machines with a large display and cameras, all on wheels — that let people with physical disabilities remotely tour different venues. As it turned out, the Mob Museum in Las Vegas had just invested in such a robot, the Beam Pro from Suitable Technologies, and was looking for guinea pigs.

So in March, Forth and Sprong sat together on his bed, turned on his computer, downloaded the software and piloted the robot through the first floor of the museum, which features a long hallway adorned with pictures of all the known mob “Made Men” and their associates.

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