A heatwave strikes in many countries around the world right now. How to find a cool spot to relax from work or studying? Fear not – someone out there is working on a robotic personal air conditioner (AC). This revolutionary product is called RoCo and it comes to you from the University of Maryland and a startup company Mobile Comfort.
The creators of RoCo (short for “The Roving Comforter”) are the guys and gals at the University of Maryland, who got around with a little help from the Department of Energy’s grant. After designing RoCo, they asked Mobile Comfort to step in to bring the technology to the market.
Why was RoCo designed in the first place?
According to the project’s explanation, “Building operators have to tightly manage temperature for an average occupancy comfort level; but the occupants only occupy a small fraction of the building’s interior. There is a critical need for technologies that create localization of thermal management to relax the temperature settings in buildings, reduce the load on HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems and enhance occupant comfort. This is achieved by tailoring the thermal environment around the individual, thus saving energy by not over-heating or over-cooling areas within the building where the occupants do not reside.”
What this means is, RoCo saves money and energy by focusing cold air directly onto an individual in need of cooling, instead of cooling the entire larger space where that person is. Yes, it can actually follow you around to cool you down!
According to their website, “Mobile Comfort brings comfort and safety to environments where cooling is impractical.” In accordance with the motto, you can use RoCo wherever you want, including enclosed spaces, living room, or even outside.
RoCo’s other cool features
RoCo is battery powered, and you can use it for eight hours straight after charging it for only four hours.
With an exterior that reminds a bit of the fictional robot R2-D2 from Star Wars franchise, RoCo is rather small. It has a diameter of 15 inches or 38 centimeters. It’s only 30 inches or 76 centimeters in height and weighs as little as 40 pounds or 18 kilograms. Therefore it is much lighter and less bulky than the existing systems.
Its operating range is 3 – 10 feet or 0.9 – 3 meters. RoCo has a smart nozzle that directs cold air straight on to you as you move. That’s a better solution than the current systems that have limited mobility range and air flow directionality.
This cool robot AC will be available for testing in spring 2019. However, you can pre-order it now at Mobile Comfort’s website. Mobile Comfort hopes to test RoCo in 300 homes and offices. It will cost you only $399.99, which, if you ask me, is a bargain for having your own robotic AC.
Photo credit: All images used in this report are owned by Mobile Comfort / J Media Group.
Editorial notice: Some of the images might be of a conceptual nature, as this product is not yet final.
Freelance writer / journalist / blogger. Tech enthusiast and gadget freak. Guitarist. Previously Al Jazeera journalist.