iRobot unveils robotic navigator

Ever wish you had someone to help visitors find their way through your business or to guide executives through a manufacturing plant?

Well, iRobot may be developing the robotic guide for you.

The Bedford, Mass.-based company probably best known for its Roomba robotic vacuum, was at the Pepcom showcase, held in conjunction with CES, Monday night offering a glimpse at a robot -- dubbed Ava -- which is in development.

Mark Chiappetta, a vice president with iRobot, said Ava is designed to navigate through a cluttered environment and can move up to two meters per second. The robot uses a mapping system and about 20 sensors, including 3-D imaging sensors and a laser range finder.

Chiappetta said he envisions Ava being used by a hospital to guide visiting specialists to labs, offices and patient rooms.

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Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is

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