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Stay away from meetings with iRobot Ava 500 telepresence bot

With an iPad interface, the Ava 500 navigates to distant meetings while you stay put. Could this be a Roomba for the office?

Ava 500

iRobot wants to help you stay away from work meetings, a sentiment we can all applaud.

Trundling along on the heels -- or wheels -- of its RP-VITA medical robot, the AVA 500 was introduced Monday by the company as an enterprise-grade telepresence robot.

Developed with Cisco's TelePresence technology, the autonomously navigating machine is like a large, rolling webcam that lets remote users take part in "meetings and presentations where movement and location spontaneity are important."

Ava 500 incorporates a Cisco TelePresence EX60 21.5-inch HD screen on a full-size platform that can roll along through places like plants, laboratories, or customer experience centers.

Users control the bot with an iPad, tapping a map location where they want to send it, and it drives itself there. Their face can be displayed on the screen while the robot moves around, or it can be set to "private" mode so the screen is blank.

En route, the machine can stop for an impromptu chat with someone, and will automatically return to its charging station when the meeting is over.

Officially called a "video collaboration robot," the Ava 500 will join many competing telepresence platforms when it becomes available (to Cisco partners) in early 2014.

Will it become the Roomba of the office? Telepresence is still a foreign concept to most companies, but its ability to eliminate costly, inefficient travel will likely see more and more businesses adopting the tech in the next five years.

Meanwhile, Ava 500 will be on display at InfoComm 2013 in Orlando, Fla., this week. Check out the promo vid below.