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Chapter 2. Robot Evolution > Robotic Presence

Robotic Presence

To robot pragmatists like Rodney Brooks, we don’t need to wait decades for robots to develop sophisticated enough noggins to be able to separate laundry and iron dad’s dress shirts. For years now, Brooks’s company iRobot has been experimenting with, and even marketing, machines that a human can “robot in” to. Its first prototype, which it began showing off in August 2000, was called the iRobot-LE. It had eight wheels—six drive wheels and two additional wheels raised up in the front that enabled the robot to travel up stairs (a significant innovation). But the main purpose of the LE was to demonstrate the concept of robotic presence. Although the LE had no manipulators or anything else on it that would enable it to do useful work (as in the sci-fi story that started this chapter), it did enable the user to be in two places at once.


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