If robotics startups get it right, the next piece of hardware you expense to your company may be a telepresence robot, a pedestal-shaped machine that will let you scoot around a remote office to check in on colleagues.
Robots are already used in factories, warehouses, and to vacuum people’s floors, but they have yet to penetrate far into the halls and cubicles of corporate America. One of the big reasons is the price. Because telepresence robots have typically cost several thousand dollars, their makers have designed them for important people doing specialized jobs, such as a doctor diagnosing a stroke or the CEO visiting remote employees.
Now, companies are developing telepresence robots in the price range that the average white-collar worker could afford. Sunnyvale, CA-based Double Robotics has sold about 2,000 of its robot, which costs $2,500 without the required iPad. And Palo Alto, CA-based Suitable Technologies plans to release a new low-end version of its corporate telepresence robot for under $2,000.