Making Robots Work to Help us Work Remotely


Date Thursday October 19th 2017

5:00-6:30pm (5:00-6:00 presentation and Q&A, followed by networking until 6:30)

Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

A panel of experts, Leila Takayama, Susan Herring, Dallas Goecker and Victoria Bellotti, will debate the state and future prospects of mobile telepresence robotics. More and more, companies around the world are exploring ways to support and empower employees to work remotely while still “being” and “feeling” present and successful. Despite some big-name companies insisting employees commute physically into work, the imperative is for all companies — not just progressive ones — to do their part to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming, and to provide flexible working arrangements to attract highly skilled employees, motivate existing talented workers, and enable long-distance collaboration.

Far from teetering on the trough of disillusionment on Gartner’s hype cycle, mobile telepresence is set to take off because of the intersection of sophisticated robotics and audio-video systems that allow for more immersive presence, combined with the benefits of flexible working arrangements. Modern robots make it possible for users to have a physical and socially salient presence at a remote workplace. Moreover they help people manage travel restrictions, allow people with disabilities and health challenges to overcome obstacles, enable rapid teleporting from place to place, save on employee travel and commuting costs, and much more. And, excitingly, innovation in the field of robotics is still only nascent, and researchers around the world are improving robots for mobile telepresence and many other practical applications. Our panel of experts are excited to share personal experiences and discuss insights in the field of robotics and mobile telepresence.


With a background in Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Human-Computer Interaction, Dr. Leila Takayama examines human encounters with new technologies. Dr. Takayama completed her Ph.D. in Communication at Stanford University in 2008, advised by Professor Clifford Nass. She also holds a Ph.D. minor in Psychology from Stanford, a master’s degree in Communication from Stanford, and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley (2003).

Susan C. Herring is a professor of Information Science and Linguistics at Indiana University Bloomington, where she founded and directs the Center for Computer-Mediated Communication. Trained in linguistics at UC Berkeley, she was among the earliest scholars to analyze digitally mediated discourse from linguistic perspectives. The Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis paradigm she developed has been influential worldwide.

Dallas Goecker received his first Armatron robot as a child and has been building robots ever since. He graduated with a degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering from Purdue University then designed electronics for a living. He was building Battlebots in the late ’90s and managed to keep robots as a hobby until 2008, while living in Indiana, he was hired by Willow Garage in Menlo Park, California to design the motor control system for the 32-axis PR2 robot. Today he still works from his home office and has lived more than ten thousand hours being remotely present.

Dr. Victoria Bellotti is a Research Fellow and developer of PARC’s Opportunity Discovery research and strategic investment targeting program. She studies people to understand their practices, problems, and requirements for future technology, and designs and analyzes human-centered systems, focusing on user experience. Dr. Bellotti received her Ph.D. in Human Computer Interaction from Queen Mary and Westfield College, an M.S. in Ergonomics, and a B.S. in Psychology from University College, all within London University in the United Kingdom.

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