iRobot, Cisco make Ava 500 available: Can remote management fly?

iRobot, Cisco make Ava 500 available: Can remote management fly?

Summary: The Ava 500, a telepresence robot from iRobot and Cisco, has exited beta. What remains to be seen is how employees adapt to remote management on the fly.


iRobot on Monday said its Ava 500 telepresence robot, launching via a partnership with Cisco, is now generally available following a beta test with enterprises.

Cisco, iRobot team up on video collaboration robot

iRobot launches new Roomba: Five innovation lessons

For iRobot, the launch of Ava is about diversifying its business. iRobot is best known for its Roomba vacuum cleaner and home cleaning bots as well as its defense robots. Ava gives iRobot more of an enterprise play.

The company said that its remote presence unit will bring in about $5 million in revenue for 2014. The home robot business will bring in $500 million to $515 million in revenue for 2014 and the defense and security unit will have sales of about $50 million.

In a release, iRobot and Cisco said the Ava 500 will be available in the U.S. and Canada and select markets in Europe via Cisco resellers such as Yorktel.

Ava 500 at work: Micromanagement from afar?

Ava is designed to provide telepresence on the move and allow for collaboration in hallways and manufacturing floors. What remains to be seen is how employee interactions are shaped via remote telepresence on the go. For instance, will the Ava 500 enable micro-management from afar in a call center or genuinely make expertise more global without the travel costs?

Ava 500: Enabling helpful collaboration in a pickle?

The Ava 500 effort was announced last June and has been through various field trials at companies like Bayer. Cisco and iRobot said they will aim Ava at manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, data center, labs and clean rooms as well as call centers. Cisco and iRobot also see Ava being used for general remote management as well as call centers.

As for the specs, the Ava 500 has a remote scheduling tool available via an iPad. The robot navigates to the location indicated automatically. The Ava 500 comes with Cisco's Telepresence EX60 software and will initiate calls when scheduled. The user on the other end can refine how the robot moves. When a meeting is over, Ava returns to a charging dock much like the Roomba does.

Ava 500: Or enabling something in between productive and annoying?

Topics: Collaboration, Cisco, Networking

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  • Just Hit the Bottom of my Uncanny Valley

    This devilish device is too creepy.
  • Give it hands

    And probably binocular vision.
    • "I am C-3PO"

      "human-cyborg relations..."
  • Damn you

    Damn you Sheldon!
  • Revenge of the Nerds

    Revenge of the Nerds had something like this on.
    But it was pretty inexpensive... small... carried what looked like an iPad on a mini Segway... and cost I believe $2K?
    From the picture, I expect this one is more like $10K, intrusively sized, and actually lower tech. Strange.
  • camera vs robot

    if the cost is $10K, then it will be cheaper to buy $50x100 video cameras and place them in the key strategic areas.
    Was there something similar already? I recall that it was done for kids who could not attend the actual school and were able to participate in the classroom activities via a device similar to this one. To me, using it in classroom is noble, appropriate, and makes much more sense than the remote management idea. The manager should be on the manufacturing floor for things to work, not playing drones game 10 thousand kilometers away.
  • Will Ava need her own assistance service animal?

    When Ava arrives to the meeting but the conference room door is already shut, how does she beckon to be let in the room? Does she also integrate with the Otis elevator so she can call for an elevator ride when she needs to travel between floors in a building, while also having the agility to “mind the gap” as she enters and exists the lift? Can she use Bluetooth to interface with the building control system to ring for the elevator and indicate that she needs to go up or down a few floors. Can she also integrate with the building security doors and trigger the employee badge proximity card reader to authorize her between building sections, then use the handicapped accessible ADA compliant electronic door opening buttons to move between rooms and corridors?

    Maybe in the next version release she will have these abilities…… I want Rosie the Robot just like George Jetson, and his boy Elroy had.
  • Does it vacuum floors?

    That's what I want to know.
  • Not quite, but similar to Surrogates film

    Bruce Willis film Surrogates expanded on this concept further and made for a spookingly realistic film:
    "in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots"
  • I knew that Roomba was the beginning of the end!

    Drones, Japanese Human looking and iPresence robots were all preceded by Roomba. So when robots finally get to the stage where they decide we need to be controlled for our own good or even eliminated, we can thank that constantly tripping us Roomba for the head start.