Two potential uses for office robots

While not about robot gaming, here’s a couple of potential applications for the latest generation of TurtleBots, BilliBots, and other wheeled robots.

I work in a large office where there are several shared printers at strategic locations to serve hundreds of people. One thing that takes time and wastes paper is the fact that you have to walk to the printer to get your print jobs, and often you tell yourself you’ll get it in a minute and then forget to pick it up. Consequently, uncollected print jobs collect at the printer over time, only to eventually be tossed in the recycle bin. These represent a wasted use of paper, toner, energy and wear on the printer.

With mobile wheeled robots really starting to come down in price, representing ony a small
portion of the cost of one of these large office printers, perhaps we are at the stage where an enterprising company can produce a robot to interface with the printers and automatically deliver print jobs to the print job originator’s desk. For a smaller office one way to manage this easier may be to put a Wi-Fi laser printer on the robot. The robot could self connect to 120v wall power at one or more charging stations to power the printer (and charge the robot’s batteries). Then, once it receives a print job it locates the originator’s desk on a map of the office and drives there and the person just picks the job out of the paper tray. For large offices that need to keep the large printers the robot would have to be more sophisticated around paper handling, but this may not be a big problem. One problem to solve would be how to transfer the print job originator’s ID to the robot so it can figure out who’s desk to drive to.
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Another issue we have is mail distribution. No one wants the job of hand delivering mail to
each staff persons desk so no one does it and it piles up in a central location. But many staff forget or don’t realize they need to look for their mail in the central pile, and old mail builds up.

It should be possible to drop the days mail received at reception into a hopper on a robot, which reads the name on each envelope, locates that person’s desk on a map of the office and auto delivers the mail in the building.

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