The average office worker waits at the printer for up to 23 hours a year. But what if the printer could come to you? Xerox, in partnership with Fuji, has been testing a brand new robotic laser printer that will deliver your documents right to your desk.
The nameless prototype printer was tested in the visitor’s lounge of a building in Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo during July and August this year. Visitors to the building were encouraged to use the Roomba-like printer for free.
Each desk in the lounge where the printer was tested has a smart card with a unique URL on it. A user visits that page, drags and drops a document into the browser and then presses print. The robot is alerted to this and makes its way across the room.
Using LIDAR sensors, the robot printer navigates around obstacles, making sure it doesn’t bump into people or things. Once it finds the right desk, the user has to hold up the smart card for the printer to read in order for it to print out the document, making sure no one else can accidentally pick up what you’re printing. Once the document is printed, the user taps a button on the tablet mounted on the top of the robot to send it ‘home’.
The robot printer is equipped with a Xerox laser printer and 4 colour Xerox toner cartridges and can handle up to A4 sized paper. Its battery lasts for one day before it needs to be recharged. The printer has been designed primarily for use in public spaces, like airport lounges, as a way to keep printed documents secure and private.
Some analysts are saying that the robot printer is not as cost effective as other secure printing solutions out there. IDC analyst Maggie Tan has said that there are better methods already available. Bryan Ma, also from IDC, has said that while the printer is certainly ingenious, it may not be very practical, stating that “it seems more like technology for technology’s sake”.
The printer is still in the testing phase and there is no news yet on when it will be available for sale.