The Crafty Robot launches the most accessible telepresence robot ever

London, England – July 21st 2020 The Crafty Robot today launches Smartipresence, a low cost telepresence robot that works with a smartphone, based on their Smartibot robotics platform. Created by product designer Ross Atkin, Smartipresence kits are available for pre-order on Kickstarter from £50 ($62).

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rossatkin/smartipresence-cardboard-telepresence-robot

Smartipresence builds on top of the existing Smartibot app-connected cardboard robot platform, adding extra components to create a dedicated telepresence robot. Slide a phone into the cradle, put the robot online then send a loved one a link to the pilot webpage allowing them to appear on-screen just like a video call, except they have the additional ability to move themselves around. Using controls on the pilot page your friends and family members can drive forward, backwards, left and right and they can tilt the phone to look up or down.

Smartipresence comes as a kit combining cleverly designed cardboard parts with re-usable electronics, allowing owners to build their own telepresence robots by hacking battery operated toys, using LEGO, radio controlled vehicles or 3D printers.

“It’s awful not being able to visit loved ones right now and I wanted to make something to help” explained Ross Atkin. “I thought telepresence might be useful, but not the robots designed for corporate environments that cost thousands. I realised that the Smartibot kit already had most of the parts you’d need to make a really accessible telepresence robot that would work in people’s homes. So I designed the extra cardboard parts to make the experience as good as it could be, and worked with Altrubots to put together the software. It’s turned out great. It’s not quite as good as actually being somewhere but it’s a whole lot better than a video call.”

As Smartipresence is an expansion for the Smartibot the kit, it also includes everything from the previous set, including parts to make the A.I. bot, Unicorn and Teabot. The kit includes 10 hours of telepresence using Smartipresence service with additional 10 hour usage codes available at £5 each. There are no accounts and the system collects no personal information from users.

The telepresence system has been created in partnership with Altrubots, creators of the ‘RC Everywhere’ system used in publicly controllable robots that perform helpful functions like trash collection.

John Stewart, Altrubots software lead, said  “It’s amazing to be creating a world wide communication system that’s going to allow normal people to use robots to communicate, it’s the closest thing to Princess Lea coming out of the R2D2 that we’re going to get right now.”

Smartibot Technical Specs

Kit contentsHardware FeaturesSoftware Features
1 x Smartibot Circuit Board3 x DC Motors + Gearboxes1 x 4AA Battery Box1 x Cardboard Smartipresence Parts1 x Cardboard A.I. Bot Parts1 x Cardboard Unicorn Parts1 x Cardboard Teabot Parts2 x Glass Marbles2 x ScrewdriversStainless Steel Fixings Rubber BandsRobot can move forward and back, rotate and tilt the phone to look up or down
NRF 52 series ARM Cortex-M4F based Bluetooth system-on-chip
Espruino runtime
USB/Bluetooth programming
Smartipresence system comprising pilot webapp and robot iOS app and webapp
iOS and Android app for remote control mode and A.I. mode (YOLO A.I.)
Programmable with JavaScript or code blocks from a web browser using Espruino

Smartibot can be found on Kickstarter starting at £50 ($63) for a limited time.

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