TECH in AMERICA (TiA)

SHARING AMERICA'S TECH NEWS FROM THE VALLEY TO THE ALLEY

Wi-Fi-Enabled Robot Takes You on a Virtual Trip to Italy

by Adam Popescu, courtesy mashable –

San Pellegrino Fruit Beverages is giving fans of Italy a free, if virtual, trip to Taormina, Sicily.

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You don’t need frequent flyer miles or even a thick bank roll for this trip. Just log into your Facebook account and Like the San Pellegrino page. From there, you’re placed in a queue for your turn to stroll Italy’s streets, thanks to a quartet of robots, which you can remotely control for three minutes. (Sicily was chosen because the 81-year-old brand’s fruit ingredients come from the island.)

See also: The First Talking Robot Travels to Space

A two-way audio-video connection with built-in language translation capabilities allows users to interact with locals and even practice their Italian. If that’s too personal for you and you’d prefer taking in a bird’s eye view, you can opt for a more scenic experience from a Skybot device, a robot mounted on a 40-foot pole, with 360-degree views of the Mediterranean and the city.

The robots stand about 5 feet tall, and weigh around 350 pounds. A mounted umbrella keeps the robot cool in the hot summer sun, and a tablet attached to a steady-cam mount allows you to see and be seen by the people you interact with. The connection streaming to and from Sicily is wireless, and viewers can watch the other streams in real time.

Each robot roams the streets with a handler and brand ambassador to help drive engagement. People who don’t want to be filmed can opt out, so no need to worry about privacy for the locals. Passerby must sign releases to be on camera.

The machines are built by Deeplocal, a Carnegie Mellon spin-off company, which spent two months on the project, from concept to development.

The campaign runs every day until Aug. 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET.

Would you use a service like this to explore a new country? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you, TiA

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This entry was posted on August 10, 2013 by in INNOVATION, Robots and tagged , , , , , , , .

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