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Telepresence robots give telecommuting employees a way to have a remote presence at the office even if they are hundreds of miles away. It could also be used at home, when you have to read bedtime stories to your kids even while you are away on a business trip.
A student could also use it to attend classes, or a doctor to make rounds. One of the telepresence robots available now is the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot.
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Features of the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot
What can you expect from the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot?
Lateral stability control. When you drive a telepresence robot all around the office, it will undoubtedly pass over obstacles such as power cords, thick carpets, as well as varied floor types.
The Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot has shock absorbing components that allow it to go over these common obstacles and avoid toppling over. The base of the robot’s long neck is no longer firmly attached to the wheeling platform and can now move from side to side.
For instance, once you drive it over a thick power cord, the robot’s base will move from side to side in order to pass over that cord.
Power drive. Under normal mode, the Double 2 Robot can go as fast as 1.8 mph, which is more than double the first generation Double Robot’s top speed of 0.8. This means that you can have a conversation with somebody who is walking alongside the Double 2 Robot that you are controlling.
And if you need to cover long distances, you can engage the power drive mode, which adds up to 80% of the robot’s normal speeds. Another plus is that you do not have to go through complicated steps to engage the power drive mode.
You only have to hold down your shift key when you drive your robot and get the speed boost.
Adjustable height. At its tallest, the Double 2 Robot stands at 59 inches tall, or a little less than five feet. If that is too tall for you, you can adjust the robot’s height down to 47 inches. You can also adjust the height remotely.
Dimensions. Aside from its height, the Double 2 Robot also has a base 10 inches wide and 9 inches deep. But even with that, it only weighs 15 pounds, making it very portable and easy enough to carry up stairs.
Surfaces. The Double 2 Robot works indoors, and can travel on any flat surface such as carpeted floors, tiles, and hardwood, among others. It can climb standard wheelchair ramps with an incline of 5%.
Battery running time. The Double 2 Robot uses a lithium ion battery that takes around three to four hours to charge. You can use it for up to 10 hours.
Video. The Double 2 Robot uses the WebRTC video protocol, which allows you to watch videos on a Web browser without needing to install plugins. The video is encrypted with 128-bit AES security and it is not recorded or stored.
Driver apps on any device. To drive your Double 2 Robot, you would need to use the driver apps.
If you have an iOS device such as an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you can download the official driver app from the App Store. If you have an Android or Windows Phone device, or if you are on your laptop or desktop computer, you can use any Web browser to drive the Double 2 Robot.
Price. The Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot itself is sold at $2,500 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here). However, you can buy the full set for only $500 more. The full set includes the robot, the charging dock, a camera kit and an audio kit.
Camera kit. The camera kit makes use of a camera that has a very wide field of view. This camera gives you 150 degrees in wide screen view. What’s more, you can expect to see things clearly because it has a resolution of five megapixels.
With the camera kit, you can also get an always-on view of the floor, allowing you to get a better feel of the remote environment so you could have an easier time driving the robot.
There is no need to switch your camera’s views because you can see what’s in front of you, as well as the floor beneath the robot.
The camera kit also delivers high resolution videos when the robot is stopped, but will adjust the resolution when it is moving. This enables the Double 2 Robot to deliver smooth videos while moving and clear videos when it is needed the most.
What you would like about the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot
The camera kit will also charge your iPad.
This means that with the camera kit, your iPad can last longer and would need to be charged separately less often.
If you have a first generation Double Telepresence Robot, you will love the fact that you can still use your old charging dock and audio kit with the new Double 2.
Also, if you want to customize how your Double 2 Robot works, you can download the iOS software development kit from the Double Robotics Web site. The Double 2 Robot also does not require you to subscribe or pay monthly fees to use either the robot or any software related to it.
And everything is covered by a one-year limited warranty.
If there are any manufacturing defects, Double Robotics will cover the repair costs as well as the shipping.
What could be better
The camera kit only works with iPads that have a lightning port, such as the iPad Air 2, 2017 and Pro versions. The Double 2 Robot is not for outdoor use. You can drive the robot only when you have Internet connection and this is dependent on the iPad used.
You can get cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity from the iPad. What’s more, the Double 2 Robot does not have autonomous driving capabilities, which means the user will need to drive it to where he or she wants the robot to go.
While it is good that the company has decided to make the robot available at $2,500 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) for those who just want a way to have a remote presence, getting the full set at the start for a discounted price of $3,000 is still advisable.
This is because you really need to have the audio kit to hear the robot clearly and the camera kit to help keep your robot safe with its always-on floor-view camera.
In short, while Double Robotics markets the audio kit as optional, it really isn’t as you cannot rely on the iPad for clear sound quality.
And the camera kit is such a convenience to have that you’d wonder why the company did not just include it, along with the audio kit, as part of the robot’s design in the first place. Even if it means increasing the price by $500.
Another drawback for making this kit optional is that you have to assemble everything yourself. And this means going through the hassle of taking out the iPad from the robot’s cradle. These kits require that the iPad is secured on the robot before you could install them.
So taking out the iPad would mean reversing the tedious process. More often than not, you would just opt to leave the iPad there and look for another tablet to use, rather than take apart and then install everything again.
If the manufacturer had embedded both kits into the robot, this would not be the case.
The audio quality is not that good without the audio kit, and without the camera kit, you either have to switch the camera view manually or drive the robot around blindly.
Lastly, if you are going to use the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot, be prepared to bump into some obstacles unexpectedly. The Double 2 Robot suffers from dropped Internet connectivity, even if your office has an outstanding Wi-Fi connection or even if your iPad has great cellular connectivity.
There are also some lags with the control, and there are times when your commands do not go through at all, causing the Double 2 Robot to crash into walls.
Final say about the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot
There are a lot of things that could be better with the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot, but at its price, you will find that you may want to live with these flaws.
For one, you will have to allot an iPad exclusively for it if you do not want to go through the hassle of taking the iPad off the robot’s cradle and then putting it back on.
It has very soft audio on its own and without the audio kit, you would have to rely on the iPad’s speaker, which does not give you crisp and clear audio even with normal office noise. The robot can also get into accidents and bumps into walls (or into people). Plus, it can topple over more times than you would prefer.
If you are looking for alternatives, there’s the Suitable Beam Enhanced robot. It is actually a much better robot that can work pretty well on its own. It is easy to drive, with very responsive controls.
It has its own display and comes fully assembled. No need to attach a separate iPad, and there are no kits to fiddle with. The Suitable Beam robot is cheaper as well, costing only $1,995 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
But you would need to pay a subscription fee of $79 a year to use the robots and close to $400 to unlock all of its features. In the long run, owning a Suitable Beam robot can prove to be very expensive.
Nevertheless, at its price range, the Double Robotics Double 2 Telepresence Robot delivers if you want to have a remote presence away from the office or home.
You might, however, want to consider getting a Suitable Beam Enhanced robot if you want lesser hassles. Or if you are looking to save, you might want to check out Padbot U1, which is much more affordable than the Double 2 Robot.