“Would you like to borrow a robot for a week?”
Would I like to borrow a robot for a week? There’s only one sane answer to that question: Of course I would. When can I get it?
The robot I was being offered was a beta unit of QB, the product of a Silicon Valley startup named Anybots. It’s a bot built with one purpose in mind: Letting remote workers such as telecommuters or folks in branch offices interact with colleagues at headquarters.
QB is essentially a remote-control Webcam on wheels–using a browser-based app, the absent employee can steer the robot around the office, see other employees, and talk to them. More puppet than independent thinker, it’s not even as autonomous as a mere Roomba. Nor does it have any way of picking up or otherwise manipulating objects, although a built-in laser pointer lets it direct coworkers’ attention in a particular direction.