If there was one day this month that I would call the oddest for news, it would be today, ladies and gentlemen, and the show goes on with a robot that takes the place of Ultima creator Richard Garriot at his downtown Austin game development company Portalarium. If you've seen the show Big Bang Theory or are familiar with the Qbo open-source robot (with Android) you know that the idea for having a robot surrogate doing all your daily activities for you isn't a brand new idea. Indeed it wasn't even Garriot who made the robot in question here, he's simply using it. Instead its the combination of the fact that the creator of one of the most famous online multiplayer games has a robot doing his bidding and the fact that he once had it represent his mother at his own wedding.
Before we continue, there's no way on earth you're going to continue to read this post without knowing how a robot represented this man's mother. When it came time to have Garriot's wedding, his mother would not have been able to attend it since it was going to be in France and she wouldn't be leaving Las Vegas. So Garriot hooked her up with a laptop interface for the robot, had the robot transported to France instead, and boom, there she was, witnessing it all, speaking to guests, and even going so far as to dance at the reception with all the kiddies. And what's best about this part of the story is that the robot was, for this occasion, outfitted with a cardboard cutout image of Garriot's mother so it'd be perfectly legitimate and ready to rock!
The robot itself is a model QB60 from Anybots, Inc, also known as an "Anybot QB", and cost Garriot a cool $15,000 when it was purchased. He made the decision to pick one up when it was first decided that his company would stay in Austin while his wife would live and work in New York. Because both of them were unable to move their workstations, the stand-in robot was the perfect solution. Now Garriot uses the robot to speak with and interact with his co-workers at the Texas-based Portalarium game developers outfit while he travels to New York as well as any other place his job or personal life takes him.
Garriot notes on the situation:
“A great part of successful collaboration comes not when you're having something to discuss, but just hearing what other people are discussing. It is a huge advantage to just feel like you're in the room with the team, even when you're on the road. It has been a relief to the challenges of travel. … In this era where people need to travel a lot more for work and also at the same time, we're trying to cut down on expenses, this kind of technology is definitely a wave of the future.
The Internet is now ubiquitous. High-speed Internet allows video conferencing. The technology of a self-balancing system like a Segway is clearly something that even school kids do in robotics competitions. So this is the kind of technology that has really, truly come of age and this is a great way that this can be packaged can be put together for the service of humanity.”
BONUS straight from the Anyblog comes this video of the same model robot as written about above ordering a scone in California. Cool beans!