The term and concept of telepresence is attributed to Marvin Minsky, pioneer of artificial intelligence [217]; see also [269,292,315]. In the most idealized case, which we are far from achieving with current technology, it could completely eliminate the need to physically travel. It could also revolutionize the lives of people who have limited mobility due to disabilities or advanced age. In terms of technical challenges, telepresence involves the integration of two components: teleoperation and VR.

Figure 13.9: The Double telepresence robot is a screen and camera on a stick. The robot costs around $2500, and the screen is a tablet, such as an iPad. The height can even be adjusted remotely so that the person may appear to be sitting or standing. (Picture by Double Robotics.)

Figure 13.9 shows a telepresence system that is commercially available and serves as a useful point of reference. Similar robots have appeared in telepresence research [138,174,247,324]. The robot is controlled by the user through a tablet or smartphone, while at the remote site the robot carries a tablet that provides a wide-angle camera and a screen to show the user's face. The base is designed to roll through typical office spaces, and the tablet height is adjustable to allow face-to-face interaction. The vehicle is top-heavy, which results in a control problem called the inverted pendulum to stabilize the tablet.

Several aspects come to mind regarding a telepresence robot:

The remainder of this section covers ongoing challenges in the development of better telepresence systems.

Steven M LaValle 2020-01-06