Beam telepresence bot can vaporize your business travel

The $16,950 Beam robot and charger let you robot around from the comfort of home.

(Credit: Suitable Technologies)

If you’re getting sick and tired of flying to another city for a few unproductive meetings, you don’t have to dream of a day when telepresence robots will make that totally unnecessary.

Beam from Suitable Technologies, a spinoff of Willow Garage, is a new addition to the growing field of remote-operated robots that project your presence into a distant location. Like other telepresence bots, it’s basically a webcam on wheels, letting you roam around offices or factories to chat with colleagues.

Officially called the Beam Remote Presence System, the bot is roughly 5 feet tall, weighs 95 pounds, can roll along at walking speed (about 5 feet per second), and has a 17-inch screen. It’s got two HD cameras, six microphones, speakers, Wi-Fi, and LED lamps.

Fully charged, the battery can power Beam for eight hours of active use. Users pilot the device with Windows or Mac OS X client software and their mouse or keyboard. When done, they’ll steer the device into a recharging dock.

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