A concept that definitely takes couch surfing to a whole new level, TeleTrip is a recently launched Kickstarter campaign aimed to let people explore and see the world in the comfort of their own environment by piloting and manning virtual travel robots. An iPad acts as the head of the little travelling robot that could, allowing pilots to see with their own eyes the wonders of the world without having to take precious time off work, book costly airfare and unabashedly embarrass themselves in a foreign country as a lazy tourist who only learned three phrases in a given country’s native language.
So far, backers of the Kickstarter campaign have been given access to TeleTrips arsenal of robotic travellers to see first hand the many wonders of New York City, everything from Time Square to backstage at runway shows during New York Fashion Week. The crowdfunding and Kickstarter campaign will help fund and spread the expansion of TeleTrip’s robots to additional cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and foreign destinations outside of the United States.
Touted as the world’s first virtual travel company, the science and tech behind TeleTrip is surprisingly simple. During the trial launch, users can login and select a destination they wish to explore by logging on TeleTrip from their laptop. Using the keyboard, users can control and drive the robot around to get better views of the area they’re exploring, while using the arrows on their screen, enabling them to pan and tilt the iPad head to get a full panoramic, comprehensive view of the attraction they’ve selected. The iPad’s video and audio functions are in play, so users can not only see, but also hear the sights and sounds, even being able to interact and communicate with the thrilled locals they’re sure to bump into roaming about as a robot in a town that isn’t their own.
For safety and fine-tuning purposes, the telepresence robots have mostly been confined to indoor sites and attractions, like museums, landmarks and special events. For outdoor venues, where any number of unforeseen environmental catastrophes can occur – it’s doubtful users will be paying much attention to traffic and pedestrian laws while piloting these robots, for example – tour guides will accompany the robots to manage and look after them so something like a stray taxi doesn’t send everyone’s fun screeching to an immediate halt. Being a tour guide for a TeleTrip robot will earn you credits, which will be used to pay for trips in the service.
The company is looking to lease their exclusive TeleTrip robots to high profile events and parties, tourist attractions and museums at a monthly rate, as well as individuals who wish to serve as tour guides and earn credits with the promise that they’ll keep 80 percent of the revenue from users buying credits and spending them on TeleTrip tours. If the Kickstarter proves to be successful, the company hopes to expand their reach and add countless more locations and robots across the globe by the end of the year with their sights set on going beyond an iPad set atop a rolling stick on wheels into the more snazzy aerial drone field. Allowing just any Tom, Dick or Harry to pilot an aerial drone from their cubicle at work might seem like a liability suit waiting to happen, but for now, being able to man a mobile iPad robot to explore places on the cheap looks to be a quick, convenient way to immerse oneself in other cultures and destinations, with minimal risk of injury or property damage.