Don't want to wait in line for an iPhone 6S? Send a robot

A "telepresence robot" is currently holding a place for a woman in Sydney who will be one of the first in the world to own Apple's latest smartphone.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read

Robot iPhone 6S queue Sydney
Lucy Kelly via her telepresence robot at the Apple Store in Sydney, Australia. Seamus Byrne/CNET

It's not unheard of for people to pay stand-ins to hold their place in Apple Store launch queues, but why shell out cash when you can get a robot to do it for free?

One enterprising Australian woman has outsourced her wait for the new iPhone 6S to a "telepresence robot" -- an Internet-connected iPad perched on top of a remote-controlled base station -- which is currently parked outside the Apple Store in Sydney, Australia. Lucy Kelly is going about her normal life while her robot, borrowed from her marketing company and also named Lucy, holds her place and courts the press, according to Mashable.

The telepresence robot adds a different spin to the usual iPhone launch theatrics. Apple's product launches typically attract long queues at its stores around the world, even though it is possible to order early online and receive your device at home on launch day. People's reasons for queuing vary wildly -- some are dedicated Apple superfans and others line up as part of marketing stunts or to raise awareness about a particular cause.

Seamus Byrne/CNET

Robot Lucy is currently fourth in line outside of the Apple Store, and real Lucy intends to take over from her electronic pal this evening, staying the final few hours in a tent to avoid the city's current inclement weather. When the iPhone 6S goes on sale at 8 a.m. tomorrow, she will be one of the first in the world to get her hands on the device.

Real Lucy works for media agency Atomic 212, which uses the simple telepresence robots like robot Lucy around the office. "I wanted to be one of the first people to have the iPhone 6S, but obviously because of work I can't spend two days standing in line waiting for a mobile phone," real Lucy told Mashable. "So my boss said, 'Just take the robot down, you'll still be able to do your work, but you'll still be waiting in line.'"

Conveniently for real Lucy's boss, robot Lucy has caused quite a stir.