Lots of Texas Robots (we mean, Texai)
As you can see from the photos above, our build of 25 Texai (Texas Alpha version) remote presence systems is well underway. The 25 Texases, a.k.a. "Texai", are now in the office, and we're busy bringing them online. The docking stations arrived on Thursday, but we're having trouble finding 25 outlets to plug them into!
Our Texai team spent long nights making this happen quickly, and it's fair to say that the rest of the office was stunned when they came in to work and saw the scene above. We now have 25 TAs, 5 PR2 Betas, 3 PR2 Alphas, and an original Texas. We're not quite at one robot per employee, but, with more PR2 Betas in production, we're getting there.
The big question is, "What are we going to do with 25 Texai?" We're working on that. We've already seen how one Texai could positively affect the relationship of one employee with the rest of the company -- now we'd like to see what effect many can have. The Texai surprised us as an unplanned byproduct of our efforts with the PR2 and ROS, but we know a good remote presence system when we see one.
We've already planned for some formal and informal uses. Some of them will be used for Human-Robot Interaction research. Others will be deployed at various sites and companies to study the mobility, networking, and social challenges that must be addressed in the design of remote presence systems.
We're also going to use them ourselves. Although we only have one employee in Indiana, we have several working remotely from home and from the Willow Garage Ski House. We'll see if the Texai can teach PR2 some tricks on the slopes.