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Japanese airline wants robots to travel in your place

Why leave home for a long, tedious trip when you can send a robot surrogate?

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Newme the telepresence robot could replace the need for air travel one day.

All Nippon Airways

Do you hate the hassle of flying more than you love visiting exotic destinations? All Nippon Airways unveiled a telepresence robot on Monday that lets people experience faraway places without having to travel there in person. 

The robot, named Newme, can transmit high-definition 2K video that lets its human user see and interact with the bot's surroundings. ANA plans to debut 1,000 Newme robots by next summer, allowing humans to attend sporting events or go shopping on the other side of the world. 

Newme, which looks like a tablet atop a pole attached to a moving base, was built by OhmniLabs at Tokyo's Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies. "By placing the world at your fingertips, avatars will open up new possibilities and help reshape everything from business and education to healthcare and entertainment," Shinya Katanozaka, president and CEO of ANA HD said in a statement.

The idea isn't completely original. In the 2009 movie Surrogates, humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots they send out into the real world. Actor Bruce Willis plays a cop who's forced to leave his home for the first time in years to investigate the murders of robot surrogates happening all over the city.

While no one is using telepresence robots to solve murders yet, ANA wants to send Newme robots to destinations that may be impossible or too dangerous for most humans to visit, like the bottom of the ocean or the moon.

ANA is also researching more practical ways for humans to use telepresence robots -- like how to help those with debilitating paralysis return to the workplace as telepresence robot waiters in Japanese cafes. 

ANA and OhmniLabs didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.