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UT Arlington Library to begin offering programming robots for checkout

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

News Topics: faculty, innovation, students

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The University of Texas at Arlington is taking technology to the next level by making robots available for checkout by students, faculty and staff at the UT Arlington Central Library.

Courtesy mantarobot.com.

TelePresence Robots allows a user to remotely interact with others and their environment.

Beginning Monday, March 23, five MantaroBot TeleMes, or TelePresence Robots, will be available. Students will be able to checkout a robot for up to three hours at a time.

The robots could allow faculty traveling to a conference to interact with students back at UT Arlington. Faculty could also use a robot to extend office hours to Central Library, a popular study destination for students. 

“UT Arlington is quickly becoming the model for innovation among academic libraries in North Texas and across the state,” said Rebecca Bichel, dean of the UT Arlington Libraries. “Following the recent launch of our FabLab, addition of 3D printers and laser cutters, bringing robots on board seemed the next logical step.”

In addition to the TeleMes, smaller Telepresence robots including a Double and two Botiful robots will also be made available. The Library is spending $18,000 of its money to make the technology possible.

“We are always examining systems to enhance learning and transform the academic experience at UT Arlington,” Bichel said. “These robots will provide our Library patrons with new means for solving problems, studying, doing research or developing their own business ideas.” 

The idea to bring robots on board came about by efforts to enhance the experience of online students. The telepresence robots, however, also will be available to patrons physically present at the Library.

The TeleMes units work as a type of remote avatar, allowing users to interact with environments where they cannot be physically present. The head of the TeleMe is customized to accept a tablet or smartphone. The device’s camera and microphone become their “eyes” and “ears.” A video demonstration is available here.

UT Arlington’s FabLab is a creative hub for students and faculty and the Dallas-Fort Worth community. The FabLab provides access to technologies, equipment, opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, training, industry mentors, and inspirational spaces in support of invention and entrepreneurship.  

Visit http://library.uta.edu/technology for additional information about the robots.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 48,000 students around the world and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.