Introducing "A11y" our Telepresence Robot
A11y, is our telepresence robot. For those unfamiliar with the abbreviation A11y, it is a common way to shorten Accessibility (with the "11" representing the letters between "A" and "y". Ally joined three of her siblings who live at UNISDR in Brussels, for the 2017 Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico. Much of our current research in this area is trying to understand how mobile remote presence devices like A11y can work alongside humans, but also how they can enable the global disability community to be more actively engaged in the processes of accessible global governance, at regional, national, and international levels. A11y and her siblings are Double2 Robots, purchased from Double Robotics in California.
Ally is a Double2 telepresence robot, manufactured by Double Robotics. These telepresence robots are now commercially available, and we have been researching how humans are responding to working along side these remote colleagues. For IDPP, and our predecessor research center, COTELCO, we have sought to understand how various technologies help to facilitate collaboration.
After acquiring Ally, we had to start testing her, and exploring how she would work in the environment of a UN conference. We used our own offices at the Spring Valley Building at American University to test, including in large classrooms, hallways, elevators, etc. The reactions of our colleagues helped prepare us for how people would react at the conference.
Ready for GP2017
After we were comfortable with how to use Ally, we completed the research design for the study. In this action research oriented project, our goal was to work with UNISDR as well as the Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DiDRRN). This global disability network was organized to help implement the Sendai Framework and especially the Dhaka Declaration.