Edward Snowden using telepresence robot to attend events internationally

16 Jun 2014

Edward Snowden chatting with attendees at TED2014 with a Beam Pro robot. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is making his ‘telepresence’ felt at events across the world with a telepresence robot that transmits a live feed from his computer to a roaming robot.

Just over a year since Snowden first revealed the extent to which the US National Security Agency (NSA) had been spying on not just US citizens but people across the world, the man is now looking to end his exile in Russia through the means of telepresence.

The technology whereby the roaming robot is connected and controlled through Wi-Fi has been developing at a rapid pace in recent years and now Snowden, with the help of a Beam Pro robot, are looking to bring him to anywhere in the world without having to fear for his safety when travelling abroad.

According to Wired, for the last three months Snowden has been travelling around the offices of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and also included a visit to this year’s TED conference in Vancouver where he gave one of his latest talks to an impressed audience.

While by no means a cheap device – the Beam Pro goes for a starting price of US$16,000 – the wheeled robot can keep going for approximately eight hours before the user, in this case Snowden, has to wheel the robot into the charging point.

In an interview with Wired, Trevor Timm, the director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, had said that in conversations with the former NSA man, Snowden had been interested in the concept of telepresence for some time and this was a logical step for them to take until he is able to set foot in his home country again, if ever: “He was telling people for a while that it could be this game-changing technology.

“I don’t think anyone quite believed him until we saw it in action…All he needs is arms to open doors, and he can go wherever he wants.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic