Feature

When I became the office robot

Telepresence robots, which retail for about $9,700, just may be the future of work.

For several weeks this summer, I was a robot in the office, said Rachel Emma Silverman in The Wall Street Journal. Literally. I work remotely from Austin, but I used the QB-82, a wheeled robot that showed my face and emitted my voice, to wheel around our New York headquarters. These “telepresence robots,” which retail for about $9,700, are designed to allow “far-flung workers to collaborate with peers and log face time at the office.” They just may be the future of work. Oddly, research has found that employees are more open with human-operated robots than with human colleagues. As I rolled around the hallways using my laptop’s arrow keys, I spoke with colleagues I’d never met before. But I also “nearly careened into glass walls, got stuck in an elevator,” and got dinged in my virtual cranium by a Nerf ball. Glitches aside, Robot Rachel was a hit.

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