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This Robot Follows You Around and Blasts You With Air Conditioning

By The Washington Post

July 6, 2016

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More efficient air conditioning via a mobile robot called Roving Comforter (RoCo) is a goal of researchers at the University of Maryland's (UMD) Center for Environmental Energy Engineering led by Reinhard Radermacher.

The researchers are participating in a three-year competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA) program.

RoCo follows its owners like a self-propelled vacuum cleaner and provides sufficient comfort to permit residences and businesses to adjust the thermostat up to four degrees.

The UMD researchers received a $2.5-million DOE grant to develop a robot that would power on by itself, monitor motion, generate cool air, and store the heat produced in the process.

In response to a signal via wearable technology or a smartphone app, RoCo adjusts its height to custom-cool its user. Radermacher says RoCo blows cool air on a person's head or chest when it comes within three feet of him. "It will allow people to be comfortable in their environment without playing with the thermostat," says UMD's Daniel Dalgo.

Jennifer Gerbi with the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy thinks RoCo would be very appealing to warehouse operators seeking to cut energy costs in large rooms with a handful of employees, but she is less certain such robots could find use in crowded offices.

From The Washington Post
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