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Make your own telepresence robot for only $500

From the guy who devised a $14 steadycam comes an admirable DIY telepresence system using iRobot Create.

Telepresence robots are way cool, but way expensive. We've seen several platforms for these machines that let you remotely guide a robot around a distant location, with prices ranging from $15,000 for Anybots' QB system to $3,000 for the R.BOT 100.

Well, Google's Johnny Chung Lee has a history of creating low-cost versions of very expensive devices, such as his $14 steadycam, and a homemade electronic whiteboard that uses the Wii Remote.

To keep in touch with his fiancee after moving to Mountain View, Calif., where Google's headquarters are located, Lee made his own telepresence robot for only $500.

As the video explains, he took a $250 iRobot Create and a similarly priced Netbook, linked them with a few hardware and software modifications, and now communicates through Skype and the robot.

One modification is a software package written with Visual Studio Express 2010 that he uses to remotely drive the iRobot Create. He also changed the robot's docking station so it can charge both the robot and netbook at once. All the details are available on his Procrastineering site.

Let's hope this is a sign that telepresence robots will get cheaper and cheaper.

(Via Hack a Day)