Aug. 1, 2012 at 8:19 PM ET
A partially destroyed Roomba has been given a second life as a telepresence robot controlled via a Google+ Hangout. The bot, named Oscar, can be driven by any of the participants in the video chat session, which as one might imagine, makes it a bit squirrely to control.
It's a fairly straightforward demo of the Google+ Hangout API (application programming interface), which lets developers use the video chat tool in their projects. In this case it's a Google employee who seems to have done it during his spare time.
The original Roomba was "hurt in a freak robot melting accident," but a little fiddling with the Roomba's well-known circuitry let it communicate with a Web server and take commands. He then mapped those commands to some buttons, plastered them into a custom Google+ Hangout, and the project was live.
Everyone can see the robot's view, since there's a tablet with a webcam mounted on it. And anyone near the robot can see the Hangout as well. There are more capable telepresence robots out there, but it's a fun project nevertheless. If you're interested in how it was done, all the code and instructions can be found on creator Gus Class' website.
The public can get a look at Oscar during a public Hangout Friday at 10 a.m. PT. In the meantime, you can watch the video of him in action below.
— via GigaOm
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.