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Japanese airline wants robots to travel in your place

CNET logo CNET 10/16/2019 Bonnie Burton
a man wearing a suit and tie: Newme the telepresence robot could replace the need for air travel one day. All Nippon Airways © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 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.

a person standing posing for the camera: The telepresence robot Newme could replace the need for air travel one day. © OhmniLabs​

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

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.

Meet all the cute, friendly, useful robots of CES 2019

a person standing in a room: The Foldimate may look like a printer, but it's really an advanced laundry robot. Its makers say it can fold a "full load of laundry," which they say is about 25 items, in under five minutes. The Foldimate can handle basic garments such as shirts and pants. Items like sheets, towels and baby clothes, though, are outside this robot's folding repertoire.Originally published on Jan. 9, this gallery will be regularly updated throughout CES.

The Foldimate may look like a printer, but it's really an advanced laundry robot. Its makers say it can fold a "full load of laundry," which they say is about 25 items, in under five minutes. The Foldimate can handle basic garments such as shirts and pants. Items like sheets, towels and baby clothes, though, are outside this robot's folding repertoire.Originally published on Jan. 9, this gallery will be regularly updated throughout CES.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
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